Citi, Israel Discount Bank, and Visa announce Israel’s most promising Fintech startups for 2021
One year into Covid-19, Citi, Israel Discount Bank and Visa, published the list of startups they are most excited about
Seven Israeli startups were chosen Tuesday as 2021’s most promising companies in Fintech. With more than 750 startups operating today in the Fintech sector alone, Israel has been a global pioneer in the field for more than a decade. A variety of categories were in the ranking for the top spot, including payments and commerce, lending and finance, cyber security, insurtech, and most promising seed company. The list, was published for the second year in a row.
The winning companies - Identiq, Balance, Sharegain, Obligo, Planck, Unit, and Panorays - were selected by 30 financial entities and venture capital funds operating in Israel, including Viola, Pitango, Team8, Entree Capital, Qumra Capital, and more. The VCs were allowed to name only one of their portfolio companies per category.
Below are the winners in each category:
Identiq ranked first in the Promising Early Stage Company category:
Founded in 2018, Identiq is the first anonymous global identity verification network. This network allows companies to onboard new customers with confidence, while reducing false positives, increasing approval rates, and creating a better user experience. This technology can also be used for funding source validation, fast withdrawal, password recovery flows, and other high-risk activity validation.
Balance ranked first in the Payments and Commerce category:
Getting paid by customers is a complex task. With the growing number of payment alternatives and financial products, merchants are battling to connect different vendors and solutions to create a smooth payment experience. Balance is addressing this challenge by providing a modernized payment platform for merchants and offers a variety of payment methods, looking to make B2B payments as easy as card payments.
Sharegain ranked first in the Trading and Investing category:
The high volatility in capital markets in the past year has increased the demand from investors to borrow securities and benefit from diverse investment strategies but until today, the ability to lend shares was reserved to large entities.
Founded in 2015, Sharegain is democratizing securities lending by providing a Securities-Lending-as-a-Service solution - an automated platform that enables private banks, asset managers, and online brokers to lend their stocks, bonds, and ETFs and generate additional revenue for them and their clients.
Obligo ranked first in the Lending and Financing category:
With the economic pressure of the Covid-19 crisis, there is a rising demand for deposit-free residential leasing, which helps families avoid the burden of paying a security deposit upon moving in. Founded in 2018 by brothers Roey and Omri Dor, Obligo addresses this challenge by providing a credit-based deposit alternative.
Instead of paying a deposit or buying deposit insurance, renters submit a payment method for pre-authorization, similar to a hotel check-in process. This benefits both the renters and the landlords who enjoy reduced operational costs and are able to promote their properties as deposit-free communities.
Planck ranked first in the Insurtech category:
Founded in 2016, Planck is a commercial insurance data platform built to enable insurers to instantly and accurately underwrite any business. Planck is an example of how technology disrupts traditional business processes. With just a business name and address, Planck’s artificial intelligence data platform creates all relevant underwriting insights in real-time, with over 90% accuracy and coverage.
Unit ranked first in the Infrastructure and Technology category:
Embedded Fintech is a rising trend as companies are looking to add financial services to their core product. But incorporating financial services is not an easy or a cheap task, creating a high bar to making these services regulatory compliant and economically viable.
Unit is tackling this by introducing a platform that lets third parties integrate banking services like payment cards, checking accounts, and money transfers into their own businesses by way of an API, allowing companies of any size to offer financial services.
Panorays ranked first in the Cyber Security category:
The increase in data privacy regulations and the growing risk of supply chain attacks are changing the way companies approach data privacy and third-party cybersecurity. Panorays addresses this challenge by providing an automated third-party security management platform that shortens their security evaluation process and provides continuous visibility into their vendor’s security and regularity posture. Most importantly, Panorays reestablishes trust between businesses by making security an efficient and integrated part of companies’ daily business operations.
“We are proud to be active contributors to the establishment and development of the Israeli Fintech ecosystem,” said Ornit Shinar, Citi Israel’s Head of External Innovation and Head of Venture Investing. “Our involvement in the last decade keeps growing. From the breadth of activities in our innovation lab through our venture investments and the commercialization of Israeli innovation. We are excited to see all the new names that got added to the list this year, congratulations to the winners and we all look forward to seeing you grow from strength to strength.”
“Visa was happy to take part in the 2021 promising Fintech companies event,” added Shahar Friedman, the Head of the Visa Innovation Studio. “We constantly strive towards connecting up-and-coming Fintechs to Visa’s global network of customers and merchants searching for solutions to their challenges and for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. What makes Visa's approach to innovation unique is our focus on establishing collaborations with tech partners. Thus, creating a platform to supply digitized solutions to acute needs in which merchants and banks have to face.”
Yael Waisbourd-Sucary, Head of Innovation and Fintech at Discount Bank added: “2020 was a crazy year for everyone, on a personal level and a professional level. I’m glad to be here and I think when we look back on what this year did to Fintech, it is only good things. We see the impact on the industry and we saw it in our fintech activities at Discount bank.”
Ahead of the winners being announced, Shinar was joined by Blumberg Capital’s David Blumberg, Aleph’s Michael Eisenberg, and Stampli’s CEO Eyal Feldman for a discussion on how Covid-19 impacted the industry.
“We’ve come up with a new name for Covid. Covid doesn’t stand for Coronavirus 19, it stands for ‘Catalyst Of Virtualization and Increased Decentralization’,” Blumberg said. “In every cloud, there is a silver lining. Be strong and have courage - don’t fear. Most entrepreneurs are resilient souls. They’ve been told no 100 times before they get a yes. That is the kind of character we look for as investors, it’s the kind of character you want to support.”
Eisenberg added that “one of the things Covid taught us is that until all of us are safe, none of us is safe. I think that’s not just true in pandemic terms but also true in financial terms. We have to, at the same time, figure out how to use new financial tools and new institutions to be able to empower a broader range of people in society… My belief is that by working together we bring people together. Through financial innovation, we can work across a broader sense of populations, geographies, and nationalities to be able to do this and bring people together.”
Stampli’s CEO Eyal Feldman added: “We’re lucky to be part of a domain which is benefitting from the situation, but we had to change tactically. We postponed our new sales office because it felt weird to hire 15 salespeople we’ve never met in a location we’ve never visited.... the pandemic proved to be beneficial because life sucked outside of work. And so people were working and collaborating and it worked really well.”