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Startups and ideas to change the world

Sergey SEDOV, Founder & CEO Robo.cash 

Robo.cash is an investment platform created as a part of the international financial holding which comprises affiliated creditors specialized in the issue of short-term loans. The motto of the platform “More money in less time” is reflected within the peer-to-portfolio model it is based on and those advantages provided to investors.

Robo.cash is distinguished to be fully automated and implies no manual investments. Following the concept designed to save the time of investors and increase their income, we completely undertake the necessity to assess and select loans according to given settings and deal with any other concerns which might arise in case of an overdue. Another point to mention is the absence of long-running loans that might greatly slow down the turnover of assets. There is no need to wait long for the return of the invested money with accrued interests what gives an opportunity to decide freely whether to reinvest under the same terms or change the settings.
For a long time investments were an attribute of banks or particular entities only and were available for a small number of people. The market of the alternative finance has spread it more widely. However, even at that market, there are still proposals that are out of reach for many people due to various reasons. From that point of view, we consider that the easy and fully automated investment process makes the P2P-lending open for a much greater number of people. There is no need to find an enormous sum of money to start investing or be a qualified financial expert to know what loans to choose and how to solve any related issues.
Despite the immense growth of the P2Pmarket, there is still a misconception about
it in the society because it has proved to be risky enough and thus considered as rather complicated. Since we are intended to make the P2P-lending clear and understandable, we try to explain all the pros and cons of such kind of investments. We believe that such an approach helps to increase people’s awareness of the market.

Brandon KRIEG, CEO & Co-Founder Stash Invest 

Stash is a mobile investing and saving platform targeted at mainstream American millennials. In our research, we found that there were two reasons people weren’t investing: a belief that you had to be rich before you could begin investing, and the belief that investing was so complex ordinary folks couldn’t understand it. We set out to fix those two problems, so Stash was developed to educate and empower the underserved market through simplification, accessibility, low fees, and a focus on education.
A Federal Reserve study found that half of Americans cannot cover an unexpected
$400 expense. That’s a hugely troubling stat. Whether with Stash Invest or Stash
Retire, we’re on a mission to make the market and saving for the future more
accessible to everyone across America – to help narrow the gap in financial inequality
and empower customers to prepare better.
Our focus, and biggest obstacle really, is around inaction caused by lack of financial
education. Stash encourages investors to take ownership of their investment choices
and invest with intent, and invest in things they believe in. Our focus on financial
literacy enables the first-time investor to learn the ropes and invest on their own.
86% of our 1 million users report having no prior investing experience or consider
themselves beginners – that’s something we’re very proud of.

There’s a huge saving epidemic happening in the US and we’re trying to help rectify that. Through Stash, this community is not only breaking into the investment world but also developing solid financial habits that will enable them to make smarter financial decisions for life.

The biggest impact is breaking down traditional barriers – whether institutional or psychological – that typically prohibit or discourage people, of all ages and backgrounds, from saving and investing for their future. We’re trying to lessen the
inequalities in wealth and financial literacy and with 86% of “Stashers” identifying as
first timers, we think we’re on the right path. Our goal is to offer a new kind of financial education – accessible and simple – and ultimately a platform where you’re encouraged to take ownership of your choices and your future.

Adam DELL, Founder and CEO, Clarity Money

Clarity Money is a personal finance app designed to act as a champion of our customers’ money. Customers share their financial accounts information with us, and we use this access to review customer spending. We then identify ways that customers can improve their financial wellness. For example, we highlight recurring costs (memberships, subscriptions, etc.) so that customers can review those “out of sight” transactions.
If something is no longer relevant for the customer’s lifestyle, they can even cancel that subscription via our app. We also partner with BillShark to help negotiate
down customer bills. And we provide customers recommendations about which credit cards may be best aligned with their spending habits.
Other companies in this space may capture customer spending, but they fail to convert customers’ past financial behaviour into recommendations about how to improve future behaviour. We want to help our customers make informed decisions.
Customers trust brands that they know. They’re entering very sensitive information
about their financial accounts, and our name doesn’t carry the same weight that their national or international institution might. But we didn’t go into this blind. We wouldn’t opt to face these headwinds if we weren’t 100% confident that what we’re
providing is different. And consumers are catching on: we launched in January and
already have more than 700,000 users.
To get the most benefit out of our product, customers need to have some financial
accounts. This way, we can virtually get to know them – through their transactions
and spending habits. We look at their patterns and are able to then convert our findings into tailored recommendations to help them further their financial wellness.
Clarity Money was designed to be the champion of our customers’ money. The app does what it can to identify ways that consumers can improve their financial habits, but it’s the consumers that must take action. We work to analyse past spending, identify areas to cut costs, anticipate consumer spending, and provide recommendations about financial services that might benefit the consumer. But our greatest tool? Information. We encourage the customer to take the right actions for them, by arming them with information.

Marc SCHNEIDER, CEO, President, & Co-founder Zebit

Zebit’s mission is to become the first company to bring no-cost credit to every consumer, without a credit check. The company provides up to $2,500 interest-free credit to shop millions of products in our online store. Members pay for their purchases over 6 months with no interest.
There is a crisis in America that impacts millions of consumers who struggle with
financial stability because of limited access to affordable credit options. 75% of workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, 63% of US households can’t afford a $500 purchase, and 36% of workers struggle with both credit card and student loan debt.
In addition, consumers pay over $70B of excess credit charges a year. No one is solving this problem. The majority of credit products are only accessible to banked customers. Any credit innovation that is available to underserved consumers perpetuates the debt incurred by highcost financing products. Zebit empowers customers to buy what they need at competitive prices and always at 0% APR.
A major challenge is reaching consumers with Zebit’s unique value proposition—
lower cost, building positive behaviours, no interest or penalties, a brand truly interested in their financial well-being—that contrasts the “Gotchas” in most credit products. Only when they TRY Zebit do they realise the true value.
Another major challenge is designing, building, and leveraging advanced technologies in eCommerce, credit risk management, fraud control and fulfillment to provide the best product and experience to our members at the lowest cost. Zebit uses its proprietary technology to optimize these areas.
Zebit’s vision is to put financial control back into the hands of consumers by giving
them interest-free credit that supports their daily lives. Our goal is to build service
offerings that allow anyone the flexibility and confidence to use credit when and
where they need it, no matter their credit history.
Zebit is the complete contrast to predatory lenders and high-cost financing options. Consumers who are typically penalized with fees or rejected for credit due to their credit history, now have access to an interest-free credit alternative that they can trust. Zebit is building a brand that consumers are proud to refer without hesitation.

Steve Robert, Co-Founder & CEO of Autobooks.co

Small Businesses have always struggled with finance, cash-flow and bookkeeping. Most financial institutions provide small businesses with the same antiquated tools they provide to consumers and retail customers – thus limiting their potential and leaving them no choice but to look for alternatives from non-bank providers.

There are over 30 million small businesses in the US alone and that number often doesn’t reflect the growing gig-economy or “micro-business” segment defined as < $250k in annual sales. These business owners must use several tools to solve individual problems – costing precious time & money.

More than 80% of small businesses do not use an accounting system, contrary to popular belief – presenting a huge market opportunity, if only these business owners valued accounting & bookkeeping. But they don’t.  They value cash-flow.

Autobooks, a fintech company based in Detroit, MI works with financial institutions to provide integrated payment and accounting software for small business, that integrates directly into internet banking. Put another way, Autobooks helps businesses bring money INTO the bank, similar to how Bill Pay has helped to move money OUT of the bank.

By helping businesses ‘automate’ bookkeeping, more businesses can get the benefits of accounting, without needing to learn (or hire) an accountant. Concepts like reconciliation go away entirely and a company can run a real-time income statement or balance sheet as money moves into or out of their bank account.  If a user can send an invoice or pay a bill, they can now achieve accounting – and their bank will soon be able to deliver additional products and services specifically tailored to their unique needs.

As it turns out, banks have customers that need help with finances. Banks already have their trust and their attention – as they hold their money.  Autobooks helps banks bring critical services down market to a new audience, providing contextually relevant and increasingly personalized services to support each of their customers respective stage; whether they are opening their first checking account, looking for convenient ways to get paid by their customers, or whether hiring employees or shopping for insurance.  Soon, banks will be able to present a business with proactive credit and lending opportunities, based upon the business’s actual, real-time financial health – instead of reacting to distressed inbound leads.  This isn’t possible today, when finances are managed by external 3rd  Instead, by “bundling” critical back-office tools together and making them easy to use, the bank becomes an extension of their customers business – the place they start and end their day.

By providing products and services customers actually want, to those who need them most (small businesses) and integrating them, making them easy to use and affordable – all banks, not just Mega Banks can compete for the next generation of businesses while at the same time rebuilding relationships that have drifted to non-bank providers.

Autobooks believes businesses with better cash-management tools have a higher likelihood to succeed; building larger, fiscally disciplined businesses that create wealth, increase GDP and have social & environmental impact on their communities.

David Mitchell, President of NYMBUS

NYMBUS was founded with a simple concept in mind: Help community banks and credit unions embrace a digital-first view of banking. We do this by providing an open, cloud-based core banking platform, which serves as the central nervous system processing all daily banking transactions and updates to accounts and other financial records. The core system not only drives the day-to-day operations of a bank, but also serves as the core IT platform for new capabilities and growth. We also accomplish this mindset by aligning on how and when our customers use banking technology. Today, it is through mobile. Our Internet and mobile capabilities give banking customers the freedom to bank when and where they need to.

The unprecedented scale of digital disruption is changing all industries. The reality, however, is that the banking sector still needs to catch up to the expectations of consumers who want an Amazon or Google experience.  This is especially true given the rapidly shifting customer base in the financial industry. Over the next 30 to 40 years, $30 trillion in financial and non-financial assets are expected to pass from Baby Boomers to their Millennial heirs. It is essential to understand the needs of this generation and take the steps to align their values with the banking experience.

Our biggest challenge is arguable our great opportunity. Current legacy core systems that run most banks and credit unions are significantly ill-equipped to support the digital age. These legacy systems were typically built around an account and not a customer, thus were never designed with current digital-channel requirements in mind and are unsuitable to service the needs of today’s digital economy. NYMBUS was born in the digital age, for the digital age, so we’re approaching the industry problem differently and with open, modern technology. This innovative thinking and technology often requires a vision match with senior leadership at financial institutions.

Community banks, as one segment of the broader industry, are quickly declining. According to George Mason University, the number of community banks shrank by 14 percent between 2010 and late 2014. While some evidence points to regulatory pressures, including Dodd-Frank, as the source of this decline, others note that community banks simply can’t keep up with the quickly-changing industry and technology needs of their customers.

NYMBUS aims to level the playing field between large financial institutions and smaller community banks and credit unions.

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