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To identify the fintech startups deserving of special recognition this year, a team of American Banker editors, BAI staff and consultant Jeanne Capachin debated the merits of self-nominees and companies we know. These are the ten that matter for 2015.

Image: Fotolia

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Standard Treasury
What it does: Opens up proprietary systems through an application programming interface that can be used by customers, banks or third parties to create new apps, for instance to automate supply chain tasks.

Why we chose it: Banks sometimes struggle to offer modern digital products to customers, hampered by the difficulty of creating new offerings with old systems. Standard Treasury could help speed time to market.

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Currency Cloud
What it does: Simplifies cross-border payments for banks, remittance firms and foreign exchange brokers. Bundles an automated payment "engine" with a network of forex and banking relationships for competitive, transparent pricing and efficient routing.

Why we chose it: End-users and regulators want financial institutions to reduce the friction in international money transfers. This technology could help.

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BioCatch
What it does: Builds consumer profiles that banks can use to detect fraud and account takeover. These profiles are based on consumers' device and website usage, among other behaviors.

Why we chose it: Fraud detection is a huge challenge for banks. BioCatch may be able to help them identify account takeover in the early stages and reduce false positives.

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Linqto
What it does: Provides a white-label videoconferencing module that can be plugged into a mobile banking app and automatically adjust to the device and network over which it's being viewed.

Why we chose it: Many in the industry believe videoconferencing will help banks solve the technical and support issues that arise for mobile banking users, a la Amazon's Mayday button.

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Econiq
What it does: Records information that's collected in conversations with front-line staff and identifies opportunities taken advantage of or missed.

Why we chose it: Few institutions make the best use of in-person interactions. The big idea behind Econiq is to make sure that when conversations occur, they are effective.

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TrueAccord
What it does: Provides debt collection via email. The firm customizes the tone of the arrear notice it sends according to consumers' interactions with the website — one might have a coach-like voice, another might read like it was written by a scorned lover.

Why we chose it: Debt collection is in dire need of an overhaul. TrueAccord is trying to offer an enlightened approach.

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FormFree
What it does: Provides mortgage lenders with real-time connections to borrowers' bank accounts. It can be used to streamline mortgage lending and the collection of documents while weeding out borrowers who try to game the system (for instance, by temporarily inflating assets when applying for a loan).

Why we chose it: The technology is timely as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA prod lenders to minimize defects in the loans they deliver.

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Verify Valid
What it does: Lets banks offer business clients the ability to issue checks by uploading a file into the VerifyValid system. Recipients can print the checks or deposit the funds via remote deposit capture.

Why we chose it: The check is here to stay — at least for now, and Verify Valid is a common sense approach to taking some of the pain and risk out of check issuance.

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Kasisto
What it does: Offers a virtual assistant that responds to voice commands (similar to Siri). Blends voice recognition, natural language understanding and artificial intelligence so a bank customer could ask how much he spent at a coffee shop in a month and get a reply.

Why we chose it: Voice activation makes tremendous sense for banking applications, especially to accommodate customers who are driving or walking.

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Rippleshot
What it does: Collects data from card issuer clients and pores through card transactions to find signs of fraudulent behavior, often by looking at past illicit activity and comparing it to current behavior. It zeros in on specific merchant locations to find trouble spots.

Why we chose it: This newer technology for stopping data breaches and preventing stolen card information from being used at merchants is very timely, given the many recent large retailer breaches.

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How We Came Up with This List
We used three main criteria for this year's Companies to Watch list: Does a company offer technology that's cool and innovative? Does that technology solve a real business problem? And is it ready for prime time? We accepted self-nominations from startups and added other companies we learned about in the past year that we felt had great promise.

Who are we? A panel of judges that included American Banker's Penny Crosman, Mary Wisniewski and Marc Hochstein; BAI's Shree Rajadurai and Andrew Scoggan; and consultant Jeanne Capachin.

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