I’m blogging live today from Finovate in New York, a one-day conference featuring the best new financial and banking technology innovations from leading established companies and the hottest young startups. I just finished listening to 31—that’s right, 31—presentations. Let me assure you, there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening behind-the-scenes of your bank account. There are also a lot of finovations that you can (or will soon be able to) interact with directly. Here are some of my “first impression” favorites. Enjoy!
1. SmartyPig: Goal-Based Saving
SmartyPig is the place to save for specific goals. Launched at Finovate 2008, SmartyPig has collected over a half billion dollars in deposits without spending a dollar in advertising. SmartyPig features a competitive interest rate on your savings, widgets to encourage friends and families to contribute to your saving goals, and the ability to receive up to a 6% “boost” on your savings when you withdraw money via a retail gift card (for example, if you were saving for a specific item). SmartyPig also announced today the ability to link Twitter and Facebook accounts to your SmartyPig account so they automatically send an update whenever you contribute money to your savings goals.
2. MShift: Deposit Checks with Your Cell Phone
MShift is a leading provider of mobile banking solutions to financial institutions nationwide. MShift already lets banking customers check their account balances and pay bills from most mobile phones (not just iPhones). Today, MShift demoed how users can deposit a check with a mobile phone simply by taking a photograph and texting the image to the bank. To use MShift, you’ll have to wait until your bank or credit union adopts their technology.
3. Home Account: Making Getting a Mortgage Easier
For every ten mortgage applications in the U.S., only four close. Home Account can help the forty percent of Americans ready to buy a home find the guaranteed lowest cost mortgage and help the 60% of home buyers who can’t yet qualify for a mortgage take specific steps (like paying off debt, improving credit scores, or putting more down) to become qualified. Users pay either a one-time fee of $49.95 or $10 a month.
4. Tile Financial: Connecting Advisers with Young Investors
In the next 10 to 15 years, young generations will inherent over $1 trillion. Problem is, young people aren’t identifying with today’s financial advisers and institutions. Consequently, 90% of the time money changes hands, it also changes banks or brokerages. Tile Financial aims to help banks and financial institutions connect with younger investors, especially those ages 15-25.
Through participating banks, Tile provides an online personal finance management tool that allows users to see their money in three distinct “spheres”: Spend, Grow, and Give. As users view each sphere, Tile pushes content—but not ads—to help users learn about money.
5. Credit.com: Credit Report Card
Look out CreditKarma, there’s a new “totally free credit score” option out there: Credit.com’s Credit Report Card. The report card lets users see not only range estimates for all of their credit scores, but also a letter grade indicator of their overall credit health.
The report card then breaks down and grades you in the five areas that contribute to your credit health: payment history, debt usage, credit age, account mix, and number of inquiries. The credit report card is totally free for users and counts as a “soft inquiry” so there’s no impact on your credit score for checking.
6. Outright: Free Small Business Accounting
Did you know that 75% of U.S. small businesses are one-person shops? Outright.com is striving to be the free Web-based accounting platform of choice for those 20 million sole proprietors. I’ve written about Outright before and, in fact, I use them myself for my accounting for my own blogging business. They’re everything you need, and nothing you don’t. (If you’re not an accountant and ever tried to use Quickbooks, you’ll know what I mean).
Today Outright unveiled the ability to import expenses form credit cards and bank accounts as well as partnerships with PayPal and eBay. PayPal users can send or receive money directly from Outright, and eBay sellers can use an integrated version of Outright right from eBay. Not for everybody, but if you run a small business full- or part-time (or someday hope to), keep a keen eye on Outright.
7. BancVue: Kasasa—Power to Small Banks
BankVue is a company that will soon give hundreds of small community-based banks and credit unions the power to compete with the largest national banks through a joint product and marketing campaign: Kasasa. Banks that sign onto the Kasasa program will offer interest-bearing free checking, high yield savings, unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, and even monthly rewards like free iTunes credits when you do things that “make the bank’s life easier” like pay bills online or enroll in e-statements. Power to small banks!
8. Kapitall: “Elegantly Smooth” Investing Research
Investors simply must check out Kapitall. This feature-rich, elegantly smooth web-based application does for investing what the iPhone did for cell phones. Kapitall looks a bit advanced for real newbie investors, but should please everyone else. Sign up for the beta version today, and soon you’ll be able to trade within Kaptiall using an integrated TDAmeritrade brokerage account.
9. Mint.com: Budgeting Widget Now on Yahoo!
Online budgeting tool Mint has about 1.6 million users, but they’re hoping to blow that number out of the water now that the Mint budgeting tool is available on Yahoo!. Now, you can check your budget just as easily as you check the weather. Despite the budgeting tool’s recent success and acquisition by Intuit, however, Finovate shows that there should be plenty of formidable competition for Mint in the personal finance manager space.
10. BillShrink: Building a Better Decision Engine
There are a lot of sites out there that give users the ability to compare bank accounts and credit cards, but BillShrink is raising the stakes with a customized deposit search tool that can even show you, for example, how many ATMs a particular bank offers in your region (and how many are free). Shopping for a new credit card? BillShrink lets you see how credit card companies are doing with complying with recently-enacted consumer protection legislation. It’s often hard to say why one comparison site is better than another; BillShrink is certainly trying.
That wraps up my picks for today, but I’ll probably be giving shout-outs to a few more Finovate participants soon. Have experiences with any of these companies or services? Do share!