Archive for 2021

SMB Lending Fraud Being Combatted with Fintech, AI

December 9, 2021
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online fraudAfter almost a month in service, Linear Financial Technologies has seen success with its machine learning fraud detection program, Linear Defense. The technology is used to help prevent fraud in all stages of small business lending.

“Since launching Linear Defense last month, market feedback has been very positive,” said Sandip Nayak, Chief Strategy & AI Officer at Linear Financial Technologies, exclusively to deBanked. “We are actively deploying the solution with our first fintech client and have a second major client, [our] first bank client, preparing to deploy Defense in early 2022.”

According to Nayak, Linear Defense is leading the way in fraud prevention since its release. “We have engaged with a number of banks to test Linear Defense on their customer channels, and the solution has shown it can outperform existing fraud programs in accurately and efficiently detecting fraud.”

Linear Defense gains its predictive power through unsupervised machine learning. The software can be taught to detect fraud in multiple types of financial products and applications, using any combination of first party, third party and alternative data to determine its detection algorithms, according to the company.

​​”Fraud costs the global economy trillions annually, in terms of actual fraud and lost business opportunities from ‘false-positives.’ Now more than ever, financial institutions and other companies delivering financial services products are concerned with the increasing sophistication of fraudsters and are searching for more effective tools to keep up,” said Linear CEO Sam Graziano.

The company claims they have created a simple, lightweight solution that clients consume through an API, seamlessly integrating into their current origination, customer onboarding, or other operating systems.

“Linear Defense is a one-of-a-kind, AI-based fraud platform that surpasses existing market solutions when it comes to detecting financial crimes and fraudulent activity. Using true alternative data and deep learning algorithms, the platform has the unique ability to auto-calibrate to a client’s specific channels and customer population,” said Nayak.

“The solution’s superior predictive power enables clients to reduce the manual touch points required to onboard new customers,” said Nayak. [It’s] creating a better experience for consumers and SMBs, and a more secure process that protects our clients against bad actors.”

Five ‘NFT Like’ Things You May Already Own

December 9, 2021
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digital humansDo you own an NFT? Believe it or not, you probably already own something very similar. Value being predicated on tangibility is a thing of the past. Below are five things you probably own or want to own that are similar to NFTs.

1. Followers on Social Media

Are you tracking the number of people looking at your Instagram stories? Trying to either get more followers or expand your online presence? These things are online assets that are intangible, only have value in the eyes of the beholder, and cannot be exchanged for an equal asset.

2. Twitter Verification

Do you have or desire to have a blue checkmark on Twitter? This is one of the most valuable assets of the internet, and can validate your online presence. With value only given and backed by those in the community, the blue check mark is the NFT of Twitter.

3. Video Game Products

Games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and the 2K series offer all types of digital purchases that can enhance the game experience, so much so that those that spend real money on virtual items can have a competitive advantage. These can be bought with real cash, earned through gameplay, or traded for other in-game assets. If you have the best cards or coolest clothing on your virtual character, that earns players big time legitimacy in the gaming world.  

4. Area Codes

In major cities like New York, area codes have a prestigious nature about them. Don’t be caught with a 845 or 201 area code if you’re trying to look like a legitimate New Yorker.

5. iMessages

Much like digital art, some pieces are much more prestigious than others. Just like if I ask you if you’re iPhone or Android, I could ask you if you’re a Bored Ape or Cryptopunk. The blue messages that come with iMessaging are a big builder of iPhone’s value, and perception of its users, just like the value of the brands certain types of NFTs stem from. If your texts are green on IOS, many iPhone users will think differently of you. This same concept applies to the NFT sects.

Kabbage Re-enters Small Business Funding Arena

December 8, 2021
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Kabbage BannerWhen Kabbage stopped lending in the Spring of 2020, many assumed they would pick up where they left off when they were acquired by American Express. Not quite. Since the deal in August 2020, Kabbage had been repurposed as a checking account service.

On Wednesday, however, Kabbage finally announced a return to funding.

“Kabbage from American Express today launched Kabbage Funding™, offering eligible small businesses flexible lines of credit between $1,000 and $150,000—now with the powerful backing of American Express. With Kabbage Funding, small businesses can apply in minutes to access working capital 24/7 to help manage their company’s cash flow.”

The only strange thing about it is the marketing that makes it sound as if Kabbage had never actually been in the funding business until just now.

Kabbage had been one of the largest online small business lenders in the country in 2019, generating approximately $2.7 billion in loan originations. At the time, it was more than Square, OnDeck, ClearCo, Funding Circle, Amazon, and Shopify.

The Industry is Back; Broker Fair Takes NYC

December 7, 2021
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Broker Fair 2021Broker Fair 2021’s showcasing in lower Manhattan on Monday brought together an unprecedented amount of attendees, that not too long ago saw their entire livelihoods and industry threatened by a pandemic-hampered economy.

“We are so happy to be here,” said Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial and speaker on the ‘Great Debate’ panel. “With everything that has happened in the past two years, we are just super excited to be a part of this.”

Speakers at the event included keynote Slava Rubin, founder of Indiegogo, Oz Konar of Business Lending Blueprint, and Leo Kanell of 7 Figures Funding.

“We’re here to rekindle,” said Adam Abraham, Partner at Blueline Capital Group. “It’s always good to meet face to face. We’ve all been speaking on the phone for years at this point, so if you put a face to the name, it changes everything.”

That alone, is the best part about this event,” said Abraham. “Here, it’s about who you’re networking with.”

Other attendees felt that alongside the networking opportunities, events like Broker Fair allow the industry to truly leverage its core strength — its relatively small size compared to other areas of the financial world.

“Despite what many people think, this industry isn’t really as big as other finance industries,” said Josh Feinberg, CEO of Everlasting Capital. “When we come together like this, it really drives inspiration, thoughts, and dreams to be able to make this industry what it is today. I think these events really bring everyone together to drive the industry to the next level.”

A total of five panels took the stage throughout the day, and included individuals from across the business financing landscape. Other highlights of the event included a Small Business Finance Professional certification course, an expo room with over fifty companies and tables, and a hip-hop performance with viral artist Kosha Dillz.

At the event, deBanked Connect Miami was announced, which will take place on March 24. For the first time, deBanked will shift away from Miami Beach and into Downtown Miami, an area in which many members of the finance, crypto, lending, and banking industries have resettled and developed new flagship offices.

“I’m super pumped about the announcement of the show,” said Feinberg. “We’ll see everyone in Miami.”

Broker Fair is HERE

December 5, 2021
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broker fair 2021 handbookMonday kicks off Broker Fair 2021 at Convene at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan. The venue can be found on the 2nd floor of 225 Liberty Street. You must have a ticket and proof of vaccination to enter. The event is sold out.

deBanked TV will be streaming live from inside the venue where host Johny Fernandez will be talking to attendees throughout the day. You can tune in to watch live on starting in the morning on December 6th.

If you see the below entrance on the 2nd floor of the building on December 6th, you’re at the right place:

Convene Entrance

Q&A with Rachel Sanders on how Small Businesses Can Utilize Blockchain Tech

December 3, 2021
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Rachel SandersAt the NFT BZL conference in Miami on Tuesday, deBanked bumped into Rootine, a vitamin company that is looking to expand into the crypto space. Rootine is a small business that exists fully in the tangible world and sells a tangible product. They offer a completely customized vitamin concoction to their customers via questionnaires that identify biomarkers on their online platform.

This all begs the question, how do small businesses like Rootine leverage crypto? Rachel Sanders, CEO and co-founder of Rootine, shared her thoughts.

Q (Adam Zaki)- Your product is obviously inspired by tech and customer experience. Why are these fundamentals of Rootine?

A (Rachel Sanders)- We are in the middle of a health data revolution. More consumers than ever before have access to critical data about their health and this access will only grow. People should be able to leverage their data to optimize their health with precision health products and actionable insights tailored to their unique data and goals. Technology is the key to make this possible.

At Rootine, our mission is to empower members to leverage their data to achieve optimal health and fuel their potential. Rootine analyzes your body to deliver a precision daily multivitamin engineered to optimize your health, and then fine-tunes your formula over time to continuously provide optimal support for your body. Our team has worked hard to build with a human-first mentality, creating a brand that both delights our members and makes a real, and positive impact on their health. We are proud to empower thousands of members to improve their health and are excited to make an even bigger impact in 2022!”

Q-What was Rootine doing at an NFT conference?

A- As the world of web3 and NFTs ballooned in the second half of 2021, we saw a community emerging celebrating vices and fueled by alcohol. There was also this odd dichotomy occurring where health influencers were changing their profile pictures to NFTs depicting un-healthy vices. We believed that heath should be a central part of the conversation in web3, so we dove in.

Rather than build a branded NFT project, we spearheaded a collaborative effort to launch Apex Optimizers, the first NFT project exclusively focused on health and human performance optimization. Community members represent brands like Eight Sleep, Rootine, Hydrant, Span Health, Bioloop, Aloha, Gwella, OneSkin, and Bristle. Early team members from Levels and founders at Bristle, health experts like Louisa Nicole and Dr. Sohaib Imitaz, professional athletes like Justin Gatlin, as well as a number of high performers and crypto and NFT heavy hitters like Steve Aoki.

It has been difficult working in unchartered territory (as a project like this has never been done before), but we were driven by a mission to build an inclusive community highlighting the importance of data-driven health and to deliver tangible real life utility to holders. We have been fortunate to collaborate with some of the top health experts, brands, athletes, and founders in human performance while building a community that is already inspiring its members to improve in areas like sleep, stress, nutrition, fitness, mental health and more.

Q-How will NFTs enhance your product? Why do you think your customers would be more willing to buy products that have some type of blockchain component?

A As we think about the future of the metaverse, consumer products and brands will play a large role. Exactly what that role looks like is yet to be determined. What we do know is that health will continue to matter and that consumer health brands will need to have a strategy around how they will tie their physical products and experiences into the digital world. As for Rootine, creating a trusted brand and impactful community is always top of mind. To do that, we want to be where our members are and offer unique opportunities that members will not find elsewhere.

One example of that is helping to launch Apex Optimizers. Apex Optimizers is just one of the offerings of the Precision Health Club and it is first and foremost an awesome community of like-minded data-driven health enthusiasts looking to improve how they look, feel, and perform everyday. Gaining access to that community is something Rootine can offer that others cannot, and that is valuable. Through Apex Optimizers we are also able to offer loyal Rootine members access to exclusive perks like 1:1 lessons with pro-athletes, multi-brand discounts and product drops, and real-life wellness experiences.

Q-What are you thoughts on access to capital for small businesses? Has Rootine ever found it difficult to get a loan? Do you think crypto could help the imbalance of access to funds for small businesses?

A- Access to VC capital is a challenge for many. In the VC world, only 2.2% of funding goes to female founded companies, and other minorities and underrepresented founders have similar difficulty. For others, the capital markets have been very founder-friendly recently, with companies raising VC funding at unprecedented valuations.

In the non-VC world, there are a number of new options coming to market that make it easier to get non-dilutive funding. Pipe and Clearco are two great examples. However, to get access to that funding, you have to meet specific size and business model criteria.

Crypto certainly has the ability to put more fundraising power into the hands of creators and builders. There will be more companies using crypto as a way to raise seed capital, and we are already seeing this trend. One thing to note here, is that as the barrier to enter web3 drops, there is going to be more competition for dollars, which will raise the bar on the projects and teams that will succeed in getting funding this way.

Q-Is crypto a topic of conversation in the office? I’m trying to gauge whether your staff has an interest in crypto or if this is just a pure marketing strategy.

A- We have a combination of people very into crypto (e.g. our lead product designer who was an early advocate and continues to be a key thought leader on the team) as well as crypto novices.

It has been exciting to see how the conversations on slack have created an environment of learning and support, helping more people get into the space in a way they are comfortable with. Apex Optimizers’ mission is to make an impact at scale through community, democratizing access to innovation, and by elevating the message around the importance of data-driven health.

For the brands involved, there is of course a marketing component, but at the core, we all came together to help more people live healthier lives because all brands involved support better health.

Q- The crypto space wants to move into the Metaverse. How will Rootine, a company that sells a physical product- vitamins nonetheless- pivot if the crypto community lives in a world where a desire to be healthy may decrease? (If I live in the digital world, with digital art, digital money, digital games, a remote job, and digital friends, why would I want to buy vitamins?)

A- Even if the majority of your life is spent in the digital world, you will still want to feel and perform your best on a daily basis. If people start to neglect health, their productivity decreases, their ability to be their best self at-home with their families and partners decreases, and their stress levels, fatigue and risk for chronic conditions increases. Rootine offers a convenient, at-home way to test your body and get precision multivitamins that can support better overall health, stress levels, energy, focus and more, fueling your potential.

Another interesting thing to note, is if you look at the people building the meta world, a vast majority are the same people who love to compete in athletic feats, biohack their bodies to optimize their productivity, or focus on specific diets. Because of this, health will always be a part of digital communities.

Q- What is the strategy here? Why mint an NFT? Is it to expose the brand? Attract investors? Corner a niche market? Who thought of this, and what’s the end goal?

A-Apex Optimizers’ mission is to make an impact at scale through community, democratizing access to innovation, and by elevating the message around the importance of data-driven health. IJ on the Rootine team originally came up with an idea to explore NFTs and the project has been a collaboration ever since. All people involved have helped shape the design, launch, community and the 30+ perks (and growing) that holders will gain access too.

Q- What is the best way for a small business, regardless of industry, to educate themselves and leverage the crypto market?

A- Get started. If you don’t own an NFT, buy one. Follow web3 twitter and join some discord servers. Research what other brands in your space or adjacent spaces are doing. If specifically looking at NFTs, find whitespace where you can build a unique project that is both collaborative and on-brand

Citi Uses Branding and Fintech to Bring Merchants Directly to Funders

December 3, 2021
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CitigroupCiti’s release of Bridge, a virtual loan broker offering merchants a three step process to apply for capital through over a dozen banks, has branched out across seven states and is continuing to grow four months in— according to recent LinkedIn posts from Citi employees.

“I am excited to announce I have been working on a new and innovative platform along with the Citi team for the past few months!” wrote Caitlyn Boyle, Assistant Vice President and member of the team who designed Bridge. “I am extremely proud to be part of such an amazing team, and to assist in building out a great platform to connect small and medium sized businesses with local, regional, and community banks.”

“If you are looking for a loan, do not hesitate to visit our platform!” Boyle wrote.

Richard Banziger, Head of Citi’s U.S. Commercial Bank, commented during the launch of the program about Bridge’s potential to not only improve the application process for merchants, but how the program gives access to capital that will be given to minority business owners who may have never been able to get access to that capital in the past.

“Citi believes in the power of local, small businesses and continues to find ways to support businesses that are the foundation of communities across the U.S. Citi funded loans totaling more than $5 billion as part of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program during 2020 and 2021.”

“As both a lender and a community stakeholder, we have a deep understanding of the problems businesses face when trying to navigate the borrowing process” said Banziger. “We are committed to finding digital solutions that can make the process easier, more seamless and more equitable.”

According to Citi, Bridge’s goals are broken down into five points. They hope to create liquidity and access to capital, modernize and automate prospecting, add digitization, transparency, and standardization to the loan process, continue to digitize small and medium sized business lending, and democratize the loan process for lenders and brokers.

“Citi prides itself on encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship among its employees to solve financial access issues and improve digital offerings for our clients and community partners,” said Vanessa Colella, Citi’s Chief Innovation Officer.

Loan options range from as little as $100,000 to as high as $10,000,000.

LAST CALL: Broker Fair Pre-Show Party

December 2, 2021
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malt house fidiThis is the last call to secure a spot for the Broker Fair pre-show party taking place on the evening of December 5th from 7-9pm at The Malt House FiDi. There are only a few tickets left to it.

Tickets to the full event the following day is already sold out. Pre-show tickets are still available here.

Are you looking for a chance to meet your fellow Broker Fair attendees in a smaller, more intimate environment?

Then join us for our Broker Fair Pre-Show at The Malt House FiDi! This is your chance to network with industry professionals before Broker Fair.