Israeli firms revolutionizing financial technology
If it has been a long time since you’ve waited for a bank teller, called your stockbroker or mailed a check, you can thank financial technology (fintech). And much of that innovation in how we move and protect our money is coming from Israel.
According to The Floor fintech startup hub in Tel Aviv, at least 430 Israeli fintech companies are developing products for needs ranging from digital banking to fundraising.
Israel’s reputation in deep data science has lured some $650 million in venture capital for the fintech sector. Financial institutions including Citibank and Barclays have established innovation labs and accelerators in the startup nation.
“Technology for financial institutions has to be extremely robust and that’s where Israel excels,” said Liat Aaronson, a partner in Marker, a venture capital and growth equity firm based in Herzliya and New York. “We’re far from the market and that makes it hard to do validation and proof of concept, but despite that, over the last few years, we’re seeing more and more banks and other fintech players coming here to offer open innovation projects and scouting innovation in Israel.”
Aaronson previously headed the Zell Entrepreneurship Program at IDC Herzliya, where many successful fintech entrepreneurs got their start. “I think we’re still on the cusp of something that is going to continue to grow,” she said.
Here are 18 of many Israeli fintech companies changing the finance world.
Payoneer, founded in 2005 by Israeli serial entrepreneur and investor Yuval Tal, has more than 700 employees globally across 12 offices, and recently completed a $180 million growth equity financing round. High-profile clients including Airbnb, Amazon and Getty Images use Payoneer’s cross-border payments platform to handle currency from more than 200 countries.
Headquartered in New York with a development center in Petah Tikva, Payoneer ranks in the top 100 of Inc. 5000’s Financial Services companies and has made Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list for five straight years.
OurCrowd launched its global online crowd-investing platform in Jerusalem in 2013 and now has 110 portfolio companies and five investment funds in which $320 million has been invested. The OurCrowd app unlocks opportunities to accredited investors worldwide. Along with Payoneer, OurCrowd ranked among the 50 leading established fintech companies on KPMG’s 100 most promising companies list for 2016 and now has seven worldwide offices.
Lemonade, started by Israeli executives formerly with Fiverr and Powermat, is disrupting the way New Yorkers buy homeowners and renters insurance. The online and mobile platform uses bots and machine learning to deliver insurance and handle claims. Started in December 2015 with a $13 million investment, Lemonade raised $34 million in December 2016 and plans expansion to other U.S. states. Lemonade won Best New Startup of the Year at the 2017 Geek Awards.
FeeX was started in September of 2012 by Waze cofounder Uri Levine as a free service that finds lower-fee alternatives for IRA, 401(k), 403(b), brokerage and other investment-type retirement accounts. The company has offices in Herzliya and New York.
The BondIT intuitive software-as-a-service platform uses advanced machine-learning algorithms to construct yield/risk optimized portfolios to match a client’s risk profile. Focusing on the Asian market, the Herzliya-based startup was founded in 2012 and has an office in Hong Kong. BondIT was chosen to take part in the Accenture 2015 FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific.
Brazilian micro-credit company Avante recently acquired Sling, an Israeli startup that enables micro-merchants to tap into mobile financial technologies via “Slings” such as bracelets or stickers facilitating customer payments by credit or debit card. The company is expanding into Latin America and has established an innovation center in Israel.
Zooz provides a data-driven payment platform for enterprise merchants to connect with multiple payment and technology providers and route transactions through the entire payment process. Zooz has offices in San Francisco and Berlin, with an Israeli research and development center in Ra’anana. It has attracted $40.5 million in investments.
CreditPlace is a peer-to-peer investment platform based in Tel Aviv that enables investors to buy outstanding receivables owed by stable Israeli companies, state-owned enterprises and government ministries. This helps companies and businesses improve cash flow while creating an alternative low-risk, high-yield, short-term liquid investment for private investors. CreditPlace raised $1.6 million last September and plans expansion to other countries during 2017.
Fundbox, with offices in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, offers a cash-flow management platform for small businesses and freelancers by purchasing outstanding invoices or giving a business-purpose loan to fill the cash-flow gap between billing and payment. The company, founded in 2013, was named to the Forbes Fintech 50 for 2016 and has raised $107.5 million.
MyCheck, founded in Tel Aviv in 2011, offers an Uber-like branded mobile payment solution for hospitality merchants (mostly restaurant chains) on three continents. Users get features including faster checkout, the ability to divide a bill and add a tip, while merchants get analytics tools and increased customer engagement.
BioCatch uses behavioral biometrics to provide behavioral authentication and malware detection solutions for web and mobile banking applications. The Tel Aviv- and New York-based company won the Global Fintech Award at the 2016 MAS’ Singapore Fintech Festival.
I Know First provides daily securities, commodities and currencies forecasts based on an advanced self-learning algorithm powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms. I Know First, based in Tel Aviv, is used by large financial institutions, banks, hedge funds and private investors.
TipRanks was among the winners of the 2016 Benzinga Global Fintech Awards and twice won “best of show” at Finovate. TipRanks was founded in 2012 to bring accurate and accountable financial advice to the general public from a comprehensive dataset of analysts, hedge fund managers, financial bloggers and corporate insiders.
TravelersBox offers a solution for travelers with leftover foreign currency. Automatic kiosks in airports in Canada, Georgia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Philippines and Turkey — with many more on the way — enable people to use that spare cash to redeem gift cards, add to their PayPal or Viber Out account, or make a charitable donation.
RevenueStream is a Herzliya company that created an artificial intelligence-based platform to detect credit card fraud in online payments instantaneously, using a relational bridge algorithm system.
Neema offers a mobile platform for unbanked foreign workers to send money home, shop and pay bills online, and purchase cellular plans. It was started three years ago in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station to serve migrant workers in Israel. Neema recently opened a San Francisco office ahead of a U.S. launch targeting some 70 million unbanked and underbanked American residents.
Covercy has a digital system for inexpensive international money transfers in 25 currencies. Covercy recently closed a $1.5 million funding round and was licensed in the United Kingdom. A 2015 graduate of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, Covercy was on Forbes’ list of 10 best businesses at the 2016 London Technology Week.
Rewire, launched in 2015, is a digital banking service for borderless money transfers and payments geared to Israel’s unbanked international workers. Based in Tel Aviv, Rewire has almost 1,000 deposit points across Israel and offers a web-based tool for transactions to India, the Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Russia. The company plans international expansion.