The following guest post is written by Larry Chiang, a co-founder of Duck9 who also regularly blogs for BusinessWeek. Today he is reporting from the Finovate startup conference.
At the FinovateStartup conference in New York City today, it is clear that financial startups are pushing forward regardless of funding woes or a lackluster economy
Companies here at Finovate center around financial innovations. They track personal finance and are aggressively plodding forward because consumer adoption of the internet is rising. These companies did not just present ideas, they brought along established industry stalwarts to their demos. What’s more, many of these start-ups are already white labeling their product and integrating into established company sites (T-Mobile ads, Yahoo, Bank of America). The user interfaces are better than average, which is perhaps influenced by Finovate’s previous winner Mint.
Best in Show went to Kasasa, an Austin, Texas-based financial website that uses real-world rewards and charity donations to get people to open free deposit accounts. They dragged a community banker up to the stage who gave a testimonial about Kasasa’a ability to generate new saving accounts. BillShrink showed off a location-based ATM fee avoider and bank account selector. Canopy has tools to better understand and manage healthcare cost, including Health Savings Accounts. Their oh-so-chic iPhone App matches up medical services to your personal HSA.
A typical company presenting was SmartyPig, which adds a social component to saving. It crowd-shares personal saving goals for a vacation or a set of golf clubs. FinanceWorks demonstrated online banking data aggregated into TurboTax. Outright takes and scrapes sales data for one-person businesses (such as eBay sellers) and helps the entrepreneur alleviate the burden of quarterly tax pre-payments. Home-Account seeks to be a Kayak for loan mortgage shopping. It plugs into Homes.com, Movoto.com and Bills.com and ‘B’- and “C”-grade paper companies like Freedom Financial Network.
Most of the sites demoed today offer features such as interest payment tracking, loan shopping, expense account summaries and more everyday, core consumer finance applications. Many of the demos featured summaries of expenses, and visually extrapolated spending behaviors to identify trends. For example, Credit.com boils down 20+ pages of credit reports into one graph (with a trend line).
At the heart of the functionality for consumer finance are apps that summarize “money in” / ‘money out’. In the same way that dashboards revolutionized the ability of C-suite officers to forecast a company’s revenues and expenses, the average consumer now is able to get dozens of data points that paint a picture of their personal budgets.