By Dwain Hebda
VC Fintech, sponsored by Little Rock’s Venture Center, is a highly selective accelerator that attracts the best financial technology startups from around the world in partnership with FIS. The program is considered one of the most prestigious of its kind for companies operating in financial technology.
The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company provides technology that allows bond traders to cut through the information clutter of lists of thousands of bonds received daily, enabling financial professionals to make quicker, better-informed buy-sell decisions.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but the bond market is almost twice as large as the stock market,” said Matthew Kee, CEO. “Technologically, however, the bond market is struggling to move out of the nineteenth century. That’s not my words, that’s the Wharton School of Business’.”
UpperRoom’s software analyzes available bonds to find the ones that provide the best fit and best value according to a given trader’s investment or compliance goals.
“Our product takes in all this bond data and then with proprietary algorithms, gives recommendations on what to buy and what to sell,” Kee said.
PYT bridges the gap in higher education financing, serving banks that are currently not in the student loan lending space. PYT works with these institutions to originate and service loans by creating software products that helps assess credit risk and manage other functions.
“Some banks are small enough they just can’t get into the space, but they don’t want to keep sending their customers to other financial institutions,” said Stacie Whisonant, founder. “We provide a turnkey solution, so they can deploy capital.”
Whisonant said the biggest advantage of attending the Little Rock accelerator was the exposure to potential clients.
“I have participated in a few different accelerators and fellowships and this is the first accelerator that chaperones customers through to you on a daily basis,” she said. “They do a really good job of facilitating those introductions.”
Billon devised technology to store digital money as encrypted files on a mobile device or in a cloud. An asset database that can be shared across a network of multiple sites, places or institutions, its full stack distributed ledger engine provides scalability and technical capability to encrypt and process any real currency, deliver instant payments and power new business models. Founded in 2012, the company maintains offices in London and Warsaw.
“I think the demand for getting paid and making payments in bitcoin is currently very focused on enthusiasts and not really mass market,” said Matt Stawarz, who started as an angel investor in Billon prior to joining the company full-time as business development director.
“We’re doing real currency stuff, what I consider real-use cases, rather than just focusing on the crypto world, which is quite exciting.”
Austin, Texas-based LexAlign provides easy-to-use online apps that help a variety of businesses meet industry lending requirements and other regulatory issues. The app allows third parties to audit themselves and identifies gaps in regulatory compliance, while providing proof of monitoring documentation to banks and other lenders.
“Banks aren’t good at creating internal risk management programs themselves, especially the automated version,” said Trevor Lain, founder and CEO. “They bring in a lot of different parties and end up with an incredibly complicated system that’s hard to maintain.”
LexAlign’s technology, by contrast, can be easily configured to bank-specific requirements and priorities. Currently targeting the auto lender and auto dealer markets, it also holds promise for use by financial advisors, financial service providers such as credit counselors and tax preparers, indirect lenders, custodial banks and other financial institutions.
Gas Pos touts its point of sale app and hardware as saving truck-stop chains $30,000 per location per year by providing seamless mobile payment processing, thereby disrupting the last mile for payments in the fuel industry.
“The product is for the [truck stop] stores themselves, it’s a product management system,” said Joshua Smith, CEO. “It’s very important that trucking companies have a way to track their fuel purchases because it’s their largest expense. Our product helps them do it in a safer, more compliant manner.”
The Birmingham, Alabama-based company, launched in 2015, enters a ruthless business space which for years has been monopolized by huge competitors. Despite this, the company just landed its largest truck stop client yet with more in its sights.
“We just did a deal with the fourth-largest truck stop chain in America, it’s an organization out of Idaho called Roady’s,” Smith said. “We’re really off to the races.”