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How bottom-up sales helped Expensify blaze the path for SaaS

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You’d expect an expense management company to have a large sales department and advertise through all kinds of channels to maximize customer acquisition. But like we’ve seen over and over through the course of this EC-1, Expensify just doesn’t do what you think it should.

Keeping in mind this company’s propensity to just stick to its guts, it’s not much of a surprise that it got to more than $100M in annual recurring revenue and millions of users with a staff of 130, some contractors, and an almost non-existent sales team.

If you’re wondering how its possible to grow to such a level without an established sales team, the short answer is: Word of mouth. To an extent, Expensify can do this due to the space it’s in, as expense reporting is such a thankless, almost mind numbingly boring task that anyone who found a good solution is bound to recommend it to their colleagues and friends.

But it’s more interesting how Expensify grows bottom-up within SMBs, its core customer base. By providing an easy and meaningful experience via the product itself, the company has come to a point where it only takes one or two users who love the service to turn their company into customers.

This approach flips the traditional sales model on its head and is now known as product-led growth, but Expensify did it long before it was an accepted business model. Though that was harder than it sounds, it also put the company in a uniquely privileged position, which it is fully intent on leveraging.

Starting the flywheel

There are many ways to get such a business model started, but as usual, Expensify threw caution and all advice out the window and banked on turning its users into evangelizers for its product.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/expensify-ec1-business/

Crowdfunding

Accenture Ventures Invests in Imburse, a Cloud enabled Payments as a Service Platform for Simplifying Global Digital Transactions

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Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has reportedly made an investment, via Accenture Ventures, into Imburse, a Cloud-powered, payments-as-a-service enterprise platform that aims to simplify the way businesses gain access to the international payments ecosystem.

Established in Zurich, Switzerland in 2018, Imburse works cooperatively with various insurers, banking institutions and other large firms to connect outdated legacy systems to the international payments ecosystem via a single connection using different APIs. Imburse works closely with several different multinational clients, which includes the Generali Group.

As firms continue to work through the complexity of digital disruption and the changing requirements of clients, payments interoperability is increasingly becoming a key part of firms’ overall digital transformation strategy.

Sulabh Agarwal, who’s responsible for leading Accenture’s Payments group internationally, stated:

“Payments systems at many companies are being stressed by changing consumer preferences – challenging them to offer the latest digital payment options while maintaining efficient operations. Imburse’s payments platform removes integration challenges and acts as the payments glue for organizations, fusing together all payments types including bank transfers, credit cards and digital wallets, to offer the customer seamless, quick and secure experiences.”

Imburse’s management noted that they’ll be joining Accenture Ventures’ Project Spotlight – an immersive engagement and investment program focused on linking emerging tech startups with the Global 2000 to fill innovation gaps.

Through the initiative, Imburse will also gain access to Accenture’s innovation network, and the chance to co-innovate with Accenture software developers, system architects and payments specialists.

Oliver Werneyer, CEO at Imburse, stated:

“We’re excited for Accenture to join our mission to make access to the global payments ecosystem easier for businesses, bringing deep industry expertise and thought leadership. Businesses around the world are under immense pressure to digitalize their payments systems and to exceed customer expectations – however the investment, time and resources required is, for many businesses, unjustifiable. Imburse and Accenture will work together to help businesses to fully optimize and future-proof their payment capabilities and leverage payments as a key strategic value driver.”

Tom Lounibos, MD at Accenture Ventures, remarked:

“Against a rapidly shifting global payments landscape, we see a huge opportunity for Imburse to add value for our clients and we’re excited to work with them to expand to new markets and scale to new industry verticals. Accenture Ventures’ investment in Imburse aligns with our commitment to solve some of the most critical business needs of our clients, which will only become more complex in the future.”

Pietro Carnevale, CEO of House of Insurtech Switzerland (HITS) AG of Generali Switzerland, added:

“The collaboration between HITS, Generali and Imburse helped us transform and digitize our payments processes in a cost effective manner, creating a better experience for our current and future customers. This is a great example of how startups and corporations can work together to solve the most pressing needs of the business. While Imburse is already working with insurers to help them update their payments processes, the startup will greatly benefit from the connections, network and industry expertise that Accenture will provide.”

Terms of the investment deal have not been shared publicly.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176941-accenture-ventures-invests-in-imburse-a-cloud-enabled-payments-as-a-service-platform-for-simplifying-global-digital-transactions/

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Payments

The Different Shades of Insurance-In-A-Box Solutions

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Back in 2007, when the concept of a pre-configured, fully integrated framework for transformation was largely unheard of, Infosys Technologies had launched Finacle Bank-in-a-Box (BIAB), a fully web-enabled application and process stack in a ready to deploy state for three regions – Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. Bank Sohar in Oman had successfully implemented this core banking and treasury solution in a record 56 days. Standard codes like ISO Country/Currency, SWIFT BIC Codes, UCPDC Codes were available in the BIAB and included 300+ process Maps.

In the recent past, insurance-in-a-box (IAAB) has gained traction and we witness developments from diverse market players. While digitally advanced carriers like Chubb have announced ecosystem-friendly IIABs, technology vendors such as WNS have launched core-system shaded IIABs for carriers. Lloyds of London, in its Future of Lloyds roadmap, announced Syndicate-in-a-box (SIAB) as one of its cornerstones. This article attempts to peer under the covers of few prominent solutions.

Chubb Studio is a partner-friendly platform consisting of customizable microsites, mashable widgets and APIs to rapidly deploy embedded insurance products (e.g., small business, personal accident or travel) for customers. Akin to insurtech startups offering embedded products and experiences through channel partners including e-commerce sites, auto dealerships (e.g., DealerPolicy) and travel websites (e.g., Cover Genius), Chubb offers equivalent speed and customer experience.  Sean Ringsted, Chief Digital Officer, says: “Chubb Studio provides significant speed-to-market for our partners.. What once took months can now be accomplished in days. It’s what we call ‘insurance in a box.’”.

Some digital providers are combining the best of worlds: modern technologies, customer engagement, enterprise-scale architecture and BPO. Through Insurance-in-a-Box, WNS helps set up (re)insurance operations from the ground up, executing technology platform deployment, process design and implementation. Designed to deliver with much shorter timeframes, these modular solutions support core operations while delivering Finance & Accounting (F&A), Human Resources (HR), and analytics and technology services. The Convex Group has appointed WNS as its long-term strategic partner to build a unique, integrated, “Platform + BPM as-a-service” proposition. While Convex Group capitalizes on its underwriting and claims management expertise, WNS will provide processing support.

Such solutions offer multiple benefits, key ones being: a) Cost effective alternative to complex core system transformation b) Accelerated approach to integrate and launch new lines of businesses c) Ability to stay current through auto-updates of content and upgrades.

Syndicate in a Box

Lloyd’s has conceptualized syndicate-in-a-box (SiaB) to make it easier for innovative capital to enter its fold, with fewer caveats compared to traditional syndicates. Munich Re Syndicate Ltd was the first company to launch an SiaB. While Lloyds mandates the SiaB to write unique risks, the volume expected is less than £100 million premium, which is the de facto minimum for conventional syndicates. The lower premium requirement minimizes barriers to entry. It also reduces risk to Lloyd’s by limiting exposure to new products bereft of adequate statistical data to support pricing.

A syndicate-in-a-box is designed to incur lower expense ratios compared to conventional syndicates. Despite the apparent constraints, it has benefits over regular syndicates, such as reduced application fees and Lloyd’s support for capital modelling. Where a traditional syndicate might take 1-2 years of build time, an Siab could be operational in three months. It’s worth noting that Siabs lack historic data for their lines due to the novelty and hence, are subject to greater market oversight.

The insurance-in-a-box construct fosters agility and lets carriers and startups focus on their core businesses, without fretting too much about processes and technology implementations. While traditionally the vanguard of technology vendors, it is a sign of the interesting times we live in that a large carrier and a marketplace have adopted similar approaches to streamline business operations of partners and intermediaries.

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Source: https://dailyfintech.com/2021/06/24/the-different-shades-of-insurance-in-a-box-solutions/

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Digital Transformation Specialist SnapSwap Chooses Banking Circle to Offer Fast, Low-Cost Payments to Clients

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SnapSwap, a provider of digital transformation services for financial services and businesses, has reportedly chosen Banking Circle to offer quicker and lower-cost payments to its clients.

By leveraging Banking Circle’s Payments on Behalf of (POBO) and Collections on Behalf of (COBO) services, SnapSwap will see enhancements to settlement times, reconciliation, and transaction processing.

SnapSwap has an established track record in developing all-digital platforms for onboarding and supporting Know-Your-Customer KYC technologies. SnapSwap holds a Principal Mastercard Membership which enables the issuing of credit and debit cards and processing of digital transactions. Its easily accessible SME banking platform, Everest™, facilitates instant account opening and supports online current accounts, multiple credit cards and automated expense management.

Denis Kiselev, CEO at SnapSwap, stated:

“Being an entrepreneur myself, I am all-too aware of the difficulties of setting up companies, opening accounts and getting corporate credit cards. We launched SnapSwap and Everest to support SMEs and start-ups right from day one, providing them with the necessary financial tools to grow their businesses.”

Denis added:

“Our vision is to enable business owners to focus on their products and clients while we take care of the rest, and Banking Circle POBO and COBO provide us with an important component in our financial infrastructure to achieve that goal. It is a modern, automated solution which means our customers benefit from faster, smoother payments and reconciliation. Importantly, the partnership with Banking Circle also means we gain higher scalability opportunities and services that are not available through traditional banks.”

Banking Circle POBO and COBO aim to address the compliance and reconciliation issues typically faced in the international B2B payments ecosystem.

Traditionally, B2B payments were received in the name of the payments business or bank instead of the actual customer. This may lead to reconciliation problems, which then might result in considerable delays in settlement, thus potentially affecting cash flow.

The Banking Circle services aim to address these pain points by allowing financial institutions to provide immediate visibility of the sender’s details when handling B2B transactions, and to obtain funds domestically into accounts in the actual client’s name.

Anders la Cour, co-founder and CEO at Banking Circle, remarked:

“Utilizing Banking Circle’s unique financial infrastructure, POBO and COBO provides SnapSwap with an optimized end-to-end payment solution and visible, Wire Transfer Regulations compliant, payment chain. SnapSwap clients benefit from smoother, faster reconciliation through dedicated multi-currency Virtual IBANs in multiple jurisdictions. Crucially, SnapSwap no longer needs to rely on the slow, costly and outdated correspondent banking network or invest in building its own solution.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176950-digital-transformation-specialist-snapswap-chooses-banking-circle-to-offer-fast-low-cost-payments-to-clients/

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Bakkt Introduces Visa Debit Card to Maximize Customers’ Ability to Spend Digital Assets like Bitcoin

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Bakkt has introduced its own Visa debit card in order to maximize customers’ ability to spend digital assets, the company revealed on Tuesday (June 22, 2021).

Bakkt Card lets clients use Bitcoin (BTC) for making online and in-store purchases, which should help with expanding the utility of cryptocurrency, according to a release.

Bakkt Holdings, LLC, the digital asset marketplace behind the Bakkt App, will be offering a fully virtual Bakkt Visa debit card which allows customers to use their Bitcoin and cash balances to buy everyday products and services online or in-store “wherever Apply Pay or Google Pay are accepted.” This includes hundreds of thousands of retailers, grocery stores, transit options and more, the announcement revealed.

Gavin Michael, CEO at Bakkt, remarked:

“As we continue Bakkt’s journey, our goal first and foremost is to offer more choice for consumers, and the Bakkt Card untethers bitcoin owners from their online-only past into a world with countless options to leverage the digital assets in their day-to-day lives Imagine a bitcoin user who sees a significant gain.”

Michael added:

“Now, instead of selling and waiting to transfer to a bank, they can simply walk into their favorite store, tap their Bakkt Card and buy that new item they’ve been eyeing. Very soon selected rewards customers will have the same flexibility – leveraging their points to pay for a lunch out with friends or even an impulse purchase.”

Bakkt clients may apply for a Bakkt Card through the firm’s App. After they have been approved, customers may spend bitcoin and cash (USD) funds from their Bakkt App account “right away, without having to first convert their bitcoin or wait for a bank transfer from a separate Bitcoin wallet to their bank.”

The release also mentioned that after the “explosion” in popularity of virtual currencies, including bitcoin, many more consumers are now looking for ways to “leverage” their digital assets. Bakkt is enabling this real-world spending, “alongside the ability to invest in and hold bitcoin with no transaction fees,” the announcement noted.

As stated in the release, the Bakkt Visa Debit Card is “issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.”

You can download the Bakkt App by visiting the App Store and Google Play Store.

As previously reported, Bakkt aims to serve as “a trusted digital asset marketplace that enables institutions and consumers to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets.”

Bakkt’s retail platform, currently available via the company’s App, aims to “amplify consumer spending, reduces payment costs, and bolsters loyalty programs, adding value for all key stakeholders within the Bakkt payments and digital assets ecosystem.”

Introduced back in 2018 by Intercontinental Exchange, Inc., Bakkt is based in Alpharetta.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176999-bakkt-introduces-visa-debit-card-to-maximize-customers-ability-to-spend-digital-assets-like-bitcoin/

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