Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Bank4You / TaxFree4U from UK

VAT refund for purchases made in the EU – in a simple mobile and online way. What sounds too easy to be true, is what the solution of our next CODE_n Finalist Bank4you / TaxFree4U offers. Co-founder Dan Chernavski told us more about his startup and “banking without borders”.

What is Bank4you / TaxFree4U all about? How did you come up with the idea?

bank4you_logoDan: TaxFree4U is the VAT Refund for purchases made in the top shopping destinations in the EU (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain). The idea to create it occurred to me, when after my European travels and shopping I decided to get a VAT refund through one of the existing Refund operators. Just for the record, I didn’t manage to get it, because my declaration was incorrectly completed. Just imagine how angry I was having wasted more than 4 hours waiting, filling in forms etc. for nothing!

Today the world is going online and uses mobile technologies in daily life to save time. Therefore, I decided to develop a mobile VAT refund service – TaxFree4U – that allows you to solve 2 major issues: correctness of completing forms and saving time.

“Digital Disruption“ – that’s the motto of this year’s CODE_n CONTEST. What makes your solution innovative, what makes it disruptive?

Dan: These days whole world lives in a rush and mobility is our main advantage. Applications and online services are in trend at the present day market, and it is because of their flexibility and possibility to save time for the client. TaxFree4U is the VAT refund service that suggests the minimal involment of the customer into any paperwork, and saves him/her from waiting in queues while getting the refund.

You’re one of the 13 finalists in the Applied FinTech contest cluster. Which challenges do you think young companies have to face in this sector? How do you handle these challenges?

Dan: Innovative mobile products demand that the clients get used to them and learn how to use them. All our clients are very busy with their daily life, and as they have to deal with great amounts of information each day, they have no time for filling in any details and forms manually, not to mention for standing in queues! We developed the simplest procedure possible than any existing one on the market for getting the VAT refund. All you need to do is to complete the 4 easy steps and you will receive up to 19% from the price of your purchases. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: fino from Germany

These days, even your bank account switch happens digital and runs off paperless. The next CODE_n finalist in our blog series – fino – offers a digital account switch service. By now, more than 80 banks are using fino’s service, which helps them in the on-boarding process of new customers. We talked to Florian Christ, founder and CEO of fino. In our interview, he tells us all there is to know about his FinTech.

fino_logoWhat is fino all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Florian: At the end of 2014, fino started with the idea to enable people switching an existing bank account to a new bank within a few minutes without any paperwork. During that time, an account switch to a new bank was only possible with a lot of paperwork for both the customer and the bank. After building the founding team of fino, the development for the digital account started in May 2015. In September 2015, just six months later, the first version of the digital account switch was ready for launch as a web and mobile solution. Today, two years later, the account switch service has been used by thousands of customers across Germany, helping them to move their old account to a new bank.

Meanwhile, more than 80 banks such as Commerzbank, 1822direkt, Wüstenrot and others are using the digital account switch of fino. The service helps banks in the onboarding process of new customers. Within that context, fino has developed a range of additional digital services in the past six months. All services were developed in close collaboration with banks. This includes a credit card and deposit switch application, as well as new processes for account opening and loan applications. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Everledger from the UK

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Our CODE_n CONTEST finalist Everledger is a leader in the real world application of blockchain technology. The FinTech startup develops and deploys innovative technological solutions to markets where provenance matters by creating an immutable digital footprint of items. Once items are registered on the blockchain, the records are permanent. This provides a clear audit trail for different parties to use throughout the supply chain in order to prove authenticity and reduce the risk of fraud. CEO and Founder Leanne Kemp told us more about her company:

What is Everledger all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Leanne: Everledger is a global, digital ledger that tracks and protects valuable items over their lifetime journey. By digitally certifying assets we can provide a clear audit trail to be used by various stakeholders throughout the supply chain process to guarantee transparency and protect against fraud, theft, crime and counterfeit activities.

Everledger is all about transparency. When blockchain first became available industry’s main focus was on the financial implications of the technology – international payments. But for me, given my background was not from banking or payments, it was clear that valuable items would be better protected on a digital platform where records were permanent and could not be altered like paper.

Ultimately we’re working to protect an object that relies on provenance to prove ownership, identity and authenticity. Provenance is key to ensuring goods are sourced ethically because, for instance, blood diamonds and counterfeits goods help fund terrorist activities globally. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Ginmon from Germany

gm_logoCODE_n CONTEST Finalist Ginmon allows customers to invest money in a globally diversified portfolio based on proven scientific methods. Customers gain access to high returns while enjoying the low risk associated with broad investments in over 10,000 companies in 47 countries. The FinTech startup provides a transparent, all-inclusive solution that enables customers to understand their investments and give them the feeling their finances are in safe hands. How? That’s what CEO and founder Lars Reiner, told us in this interview.

What is Ginmon all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Lars: Ginmon is all about providing a modern and efficient personal wealth management. While working for one of biggest commercial banks in Germany I realized that proven scientific concepts were often not offered to customers. Those concepts are taught around the globe and proven many times. Banks do not offer products based on those concepts because they are very low margin and not as profitable as traditional products. Therefore to really profit from professional wealth management one has to study investment theory and do it himself or pay horrendous sums to personal wealth managers. Additionally it seemed to me that large companies could not or did not want to react and adapt to the possibilities digitalization provided. As a technology and innovation loving person I had a concrete idea about how customers could benefit from digitalization, but the established financial industry did not provide me with the right setting to implement those ideas. Finally the request of many friends and family members who were looking for a solution to build wealth efficiently triggered my decision to start Ginmon. To put it in a nutshell: I wanted to implement the ideas I had for digital wealth management, provide an investment concept which was up date only restricted to professionals and last but not least enable my friends and family members to build up wealth efficiently.

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More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Kantox from the UK

kantox_logoKantox is a multinational FinTech company offering FX management solutions which allow customers to manage their currency exposure, build hedging strategies, and automate FX transactions and process international payments in a smart way. Headquartered in London, the startup will join us as CODE_n CONTEST finalist at our new.New Festival in Karlsruhe, September, this fall. Prior to that, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Philippe Gelis has taken the time to tell us more about his company!

What is Kantox all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Philippe: Kantox is a FinTech company offering foreign exchange management solutions. We develop technology to solve one of the major pain-points faced by international companies: currency management.

Before founding Kantox, I worked as a strategy consultant for different consulting firms including Deloitte. During my time there, one of my clients exporting food and wine was exposed to a foreign exchange. With the assistance of my then-colleague and Kantox co-founder Toni, we tried to help him negotiate with banks. We soon realised that the negotiation process was expensive and complex for a mid-sized firm with no access to live rates.

This experience allowed us to identify a gap in the market and therefore, an opportunity for launching a business. Large companies have the resources and knowledge to manage foreign exchange well and to negotiate fair and transparent prices with banks. By contrast, SMEs either have enormous difficulty doing so. They lack internal resources, technology and negotiation power.

Philippe Gelis, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Philippe Gelis, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kantox

At the onset, solving this painpoint was at the core of our value proposition. Our expertise, products, and solutions allow our customers to manage their currency exposure, build hedging strategies, automate FX transactions and process international payments in a smart and cost-efficient way.

As we expanded our business further, we realised that automation is at the base of efficiency in managing foreign exchange. In Kantox, we develop FX management software solutions that allow our clients to automate their currency strategy as well as to easily hedge their risk exposure.

We have also released our API end of last year to help clients completely automating the management of their foreign exchange exposure. That way, they have FX risk much better managed, they sabe time and increase efficiency. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: creditshelf from Germany

cs_logocreditshelf is an online marketplace bringing together SMEs and professional investors, providing unsecured loans ranging from €100k to €2.5m with a runtime of 1-12 months. Based in Frankfurt, the CODE_n CONTEST Finalist makes sure that each accepted loan project goes through a detailed risk analysis before it is uploaded for a blind bidding process. We talked to CSO Daniel Bartsch (PhD) about his company: FinTechs, he says, naturally compete with banks – but he also tells us why this is not at all creditshelf’s goal.

What is creditshelf all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Daniel: In times of low interest rates and tighter regulation banks do increasingly refrain from serving financing needs of small and medium sized companies. Stepping into this gap creditshelf is offering short-term working capital loans to SMEs, online via a lending platform connecting borrowers directly to our network of professional investors. Using cutting edge peer-to-peer technology we make available to our investors a new asset class that was previously reserved for banks, whilst we provide quick and easy funding to SMEs at attractive rates.

The creditshelf team at the "Frankfurter Gründerpreis" winning second place as best FinTech.

The creditshelf team at the “Frankfurter Gründerpreis” winning second place as best FinTech.

The idea was born following the financial crisis. The creditshelf founder team consists of senior banking and financial services professionals. First hand in our day to day banking businesses we realized that banks are not serving the financial needs of SMEs like they did before the banking crisis. In our heads came up different models how to fill this gap. We felt it was the right time for the introduction of a disruptive business model in corporate financial services. As a consequence we founded creditshelf late 2014, and quit our banking jobs. Fast forward 18 months, we are sitting in our small new office in Frankfurt am Main, with a team comprising 20 people across sales, risk management and IT, serving SME clients. To date, we have originated a significant double-digit million EUR amount of loans to these “Mittelstand” companies that mark the backbone of the German economy. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: CRiskCo from the United States

logoOur CODE_n CONTEST Finalist CRiskCo revolutionizes the credit approval process and helps loan providers with key challenges such as financial data acquisition, response time reduction and better risk assessment. The startup’s infrastructure connects to accounting systems in a one-click process, collects relevant data, standardizes it, and sends it to the loan provider in seconds. CEO Erez Saf told us some more details about his FinTech company!

What is CRiskCo all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Erez: CRiskCo is disrupting the credit information business, a field ruled by giants such as D&B and Experian, which lack the tools and data needed to predict or manage credit portfolios. We help businesses reduce bad debt and make good credit decisions by providing credit risk information, by predicting future defaults and by assessing risks of current and potential customers. CRiskCo’s revolutionary approach includes the use of unique Artificial Intelligence algorithms, Big Data models and a cloud based technology. CRiskCo’s goal is to enable trust between businesses worldwide and enable new credit solutions to address SMB’s needs.

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In my former role as CTO for a SAP Partner and an SME consultant, I had developed ad hock solutions for businesses to manage and control their credit customers’ portfolios. I personally witnessed businesses deal with dozens of poor clients, who defaulted or displayed sporadic payment behavior. A couple of years later as the CIO of eLoan.co.il, a P2P lending platform, I was exposed to some great tools and innovative ideas for managing individual’s credit portfolios, which I noticed that the SME community lacked. This is what drove me to start CRiskCo. More…

Filiz Sarah Gärtner

Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: Blockchain Helix from Germany

It’s time for the next FinTech finalist in our blog series: let’s meet Blockchain Helix! With their innovative solution, the German startup overcomes the problem of anonymous vs. legally secure transactions. Oliver Naegele, Founder & CEO, told us more!

Blockchain_Helix_LogoWhat is Blockchain Helix all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Oliver: Blockchain Helix is a Blockchain architecture that overcomes the problem of anonymous vs. legally secure transactions. We do this, by introducing an Identity management that handles privacy. We can streamline any KYC process and manage the user accounts with our technology.

We are driven by the fact, that Web 2.0 has data leakages and loss of data self-determination. Internet nowadays is not suitable for an internet of values and transactions. That´s why we need an approach to give back trust and our long work with blockchain and portal-solutions leads to this.

“Digital Disruption“ – that’s the motto of this year’s CODE_n CONTEST. What makes your solution innovative, what makes it disruptive?

Oliver: We are working on a technology that we call Trusted Web“ or Web x.0“. Our Helix technology gives us the capabilities to have privacy and security by design. Blockchain is a true gamechanger and the way we want to introduce it for everyday and everybody use and hide the disturbing wallet-usage is disruptive.

You’re one of the 13 finalists in the Applied FinTech contest cluster. Which challenges do you think young companies have to face in this sector? How do you handle these challenges?

Oliver: FinTech Startups more than any other sector (besides biotech) have to be more serious in business and has to deal with a very slow moving industry. This is a challenge as well as an advantage. Our very special challenge is that we are exploring the capabilities on a very early stage. Every Blockchain Technology like Hyperledger, Ethereum is public beta and evolving fast. This leads to higher development demands and workarounds. To overcome the fear of a new technology we do Blockchain events at our office and run the BlockchainLAB as an open dialogue platform. More…