FDATA North America member Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with more than 3 million subscribers globally. This Member Spotlight interview features Faye Pang, Xero’s Country Manager for Canada.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with more than 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small businesses and their advisors have access to real-time financial data at anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
Founded in 2006, Xero is a global business, domiciled in New Zealand and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: XRO). Our team of more than 3,600 employees is driven by our purpose to make life better for people in small businesses, their advisors, and communities around the world.
The relationships we have with our partners in the accounting and bookkeeping communities are part of what makes Xero unique. Xero’s platform allows accountants and bookkeepers to collaborate with their small business clients on a single, up-to-date general ledger and manage their finances, including invoicing, payroll, tax compliance, cash flow, and much more.
Xero has built a thriving ecosystem of over 1,000 connected apps and more than 300 connections to banks and financial service providers. With apps that support everything from inventory and logistics to point of sale and project management, the Xero App Marketplace empowers small businesses to build their own toolkit to run all aspects of their business and have them all work together seamlessly.
We are dedicated to building a socially conscious and environmentally sustainable business, benefitting the millions of customers we serve, their advisors, communities and the shareholders and employees of Xero. We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment. During the year ended 31 March 2021 (FY21), Xero was certified carbon neutral by the Australian Government’s Climate Active program.
Our commitment to gender diversity and inclusion was recognized with Xero’s inclusion in the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which is the third consecutive year the company has been included.
TransUnion has been on the cutting edge of consumer data technology for more than half a century and is one of the world’s leading global information and insights companies. TransUnion serves consumers in more than 30 countries on five continents. In the United States alone, more than 166 million people have received free access to their credit information through TransUnion or its partners.
Information for good is TransUnion’s mission and the company is focused on using data to enhance financial inclusion. Helping individuals who too often have been left behind by traditional systems, the company’s alternative data assets can help create a more complete picture of a consumer’s risk profile. To date through trended and alternative financial data, TransUnion has helped 35 million credit invisible or credit-disadvantaged people gain greater access to credit. If scaled, the company estimates that the inclusion of alternative financial data could help an additional 60 million people gain access to credit.
TransUnion has long been an advocate for the use of alternative financial data. The company’s President & CEO, Chris Cartwright remarked “If alternative data is widely captured on credit reports and used by lenders in credit underwriting, the benefits would cascade across generations and all corners of America.” Because of that “more families would be able to flourish in the financial ecosystem, constructing legacies of prosperity they can pass along to their children,” he added.
As financial institutions look for new ways to support financial inclusion, TransUnion remains committed to doing their part to create a better future and more fair society. They recognize this important work is just beginning and their goal will be met once equity and credit access is an integral part of an economy where no American is left behind.
For more information on TransUnion, please visit www.transunion.com
Technology has changed the way people bank, invest, and manage their money. Petal takes a new approach to consumer credit, enabling customers to use their own bank account data – rather than a traditional credit report – to access safe and affordable financial products and services and to build credit, avoid debt, and spend responsibly.
Traditional banks often rely on outdated measures of creditworthiness, such as traditional bureau-based credit scores, in determining which consumers get approved for a new loan or line of credit. This approach has resulted in the tens of millions of Americans with thin or no credit files being unable to access financial products such as car loans, credit cards, or mortgages. To address this problem, Petal offers credit cards (issued by WebBank) to consumers based on “cash flow underwriting” – using a customer’s bank transaction history to evaluate their creditworthiness, examining income, savings, and spending patterns. The insights gained from cash flow underwriting have allowed Petal to expand access to the financial system to many American consumers who otherwise would not have received credit and enable these consumers to build credit profiles to help them access additional products and services. The majority of Petal members had little to no credit history when approved, and more than 40% were previously denied credit by a major bank or card issuer. Petal members with no prior credit history achieve an average credit score of 680 after just a few months of responsible use.
The Petal card goes beyond providing access to credit: it has numerous features designed to help members succeed financially. Petal’s Leap program provides a clear pathway for members to qualify for a credit limit increase, while also promoting responsible financial behavior. Customers enrolled in Petal’s Leap program that make six on-time monthly payments in a row and maintain a healthy credit score are guaranteed a credit limit increase. The Leap tab on Petal’s mobile app provides a convenient platform for customers to track their progress and includes customized suggestions for members to improve their financial health and build their credit profile. In addition, Petal distinguishes itself from other credit cards by encouraging customers to pay their full balance each month. Mainstream credit cards, meanwhile, often put consumers on a more expensive path by making “pay the minimum” the starting point. Petal members who cannot pay the full balance can use the Petal app’s payments calculator to easily understand exactly how much interest they will owe. Petal has also offered incentives, including a chance to win up to $500, to encourage members to pay more than the minimum on their monthly statement. Finally, to further encourage financial responsibility, Petal provides qualifying members with extra cash back on purchases – beyond the standard 1% – when they establish a history of making on-time monthly payments.
In April 2021, Petal launched Prism Data, a new company that enables banks, fintechs and other business customers to translate consumer-permissioned bank account data into useful insights and a CashScore that can help determine creditworthiness. By integrating Prism Data into their lending applications, users can improve their ability to reach consumers that have been left out of the mainstream financial system – particularly those who are credit invisible. Prism Data was founded on the belief that open banking and access to consumer-permissioned bank account transactional data will change the way consumer finance works. When announcing Prism Data, Jason Gross, Petal CEO and co-founder, said, “Prism Data is the next great step in furthering Petal’s original mission to democratize access to credit, now by empowering other organizations to serve more customers, build better products, and make smarter decisions.”
Petal’s success at reaching traditionally underserved consumers has demonstrated that open banking policies can help expand financial inclusion. In a June 2019 op-ed co-written with FDATA North America, Gross argued that bringing open banking to the United States could help policymakers address the fact that:
- 45 million Americans cannot access the modern credit system because of a lack of information in their credit report;
- 4 in 10 American adults don’t have savings necessary to cover a $400 emergency; and
- American consumers face up to $34 billion in overdraft fees annually.
For more information on Petal’s advocacy for open banking, you can read Petal’s written statement provided as part of the CFPB’s February 2020 symposium on consumer access to financial records, as well as Petal’s submitted comments to CFPB as part of the1033 rulemaking process and a Medium post by CEO Jason Gross published earlier this year titled “Your financial data belongs to you, not your bank.”
Morningstar empowers investor success by providing independent investment data, research, and analysis to investors of all kinds. This spirit of independence and transparency ignited in 1984, when Joe Mansueto left his job as a stock analyst. He realized that investors lacked the information they needed to make intelligent decisions about which investments best fit their plans. At the same time, he saw mutual funds growing in popularity as the tides were shifting away from company pensions to 401(k) plans. What was missing, he thought, was investment research for the average investor. Joe turned his idea into a new business with high aspirations—to help investors reach their financial goals.
Today, Morningstar provides data and research insights on a wide range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, debt securities, and real-time global market data. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with approximately $260 billion in assets under advisement and management as of September 30, 2021. Morningstar is a global firm with operations in 29 countries.
Individual investors use Morningstar to make educated investment decisions. These investors want pertinent facts they can trust from an independent source, delivered in easy-to-understand formats. Financial advisors and other investment professionals turn to Morningstar for tools that help them research, analyze, present, and support their investment ideas. Morningstar’s research, analytics, and investment management services help advisors make more efficient use of their time and deliver better investment outcomes to clients.
The backbone of Morningstar’s independence and transparency is its commitment to research that illuminates investing. Recently published research available on www.morningstar.com includes:
- The “Morningstar Sustainable Investing Framework” provides the critical need for clarity in the rapidly growing environmental, social, and governance investing space.
- Morningstar’s behavioral science team recently published, “Drivers of Savings Inequality by Race and Place,” on factors that influence the differences in savings rates in American households.
- Newly published, “The State of Retirement Income,” reassesses safe withdrawal rates for retirees, finding that the standard rule of thumb should be lowered to 3.3% from 4%.
Morningstar® ByAllAccountsSM and FDATA
Morningstar ByAllAccounts is a data aggregator built to deliver high-quality, interoperable account data for the complex needs of the wealth management industry. It works closely with the FDATA Community and is the only aggregation provider that focuses exclusively on investors, advisors, and the enterprises who support them.
“At ByAllAccounts, the data we provide our customers is mission critical to powering holistic financial planning,” says Katy Gibson, head of product for Morningstar ByAllAccounts. “As such, we are big proponents of open banking because it gives us the ability to connect to reliable and secure data sources with minimal connectivity disruptions. As members of FDATA we will continue to advocate for the investment use case, ensuring the unique needs of investors and professionals that serve them are met.”
For more information on Morningstar and Morningstar ByAllAccounts, click here.
Founded in 2010, MX helps organizations everywhere connect to consumers’ financial data to deliver intelligent and personalized money experiences. MX leads the industry with the most secure, reliable and direct API connections to the world’s top financial institutions using the most advanced AI and machine learning enhancement engine to categorize transaction data with 98 percent coverage. By connecting with 16,000 financial institutions and fintechs, MX provides the industry’s most reliable and secure data connectivity network reaching more than 200 million consumers worldwide.
MX has been a leader in the open banking movement in North America with their approach to modern connectivity. Chief Advocacy Officer, Jane Barratt, explained to Bankrate, “Open banking isn’t something that you only need once when you apply for a mortgage. It means you can use the data that you have, it’s yours, and [you can] share it with companies that can help you improve your financial health. Whether it’s access to cheaper forms of credit, use different money management tools or whether it’s to set up direct payments. There are [numerous things you can do to make] your money more automated and it is all based on data availability.”
With the launch of MXaccess, MX provides an open finance API platform for banks, credit unions, digital banks and digital banking providers. MXaccess improves the data sharing experience for customers by removing friction and frustration due to broken connections caused by screen scraping and provides a transparent and secure method to share data.
In addition to improving the data sharing experience for the financial industry’s ecosystem, Tearsheet recently honored MX with its Best Aggregator/Fintech Partnership Award for 2021. MX won the award for its work with FormFree, a technology company that improves lenders’ ability to make more informed decisions about borrowers and minimizes lenders’ risk via a seamless loan application experience for borrowers. By using MX’s modern connections, the average aggregation time for FormFree connections fell 89 percent, declining from an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds to just 22 seconds. This improvement boosted FormFree’s revenue by 15 percent.
MX’s CEO Ryan Caldwell has made it clear that MX is on a mission to improve the financial ecosystem by increasing trust, managing risk and enabling the exchange of customer data to improve outcomes and financial health. Last year, Caldwell explained to KSL.com that 80 percent of the U.S. workforce lives paycheck to paycheck causing individuals and families to feel “real pain” and serious stress. MX is helping ease that pain by working with traditional financial institutions and fintechs to aggregate accounts and credit cards into one platform making it easier for individuals and families to make data-driven decisions and become financially strong.
According to Government Technology magazine, there were more than 1,900 data breaches in the United States in 2020. In 2019 and 2020 alone, about 16 billion records were breached, and the average cost for a single breach is $7.7 million for companies with less than 500 employees. Breaches also grew in severity between 2019 and 2020.
At the same time, there are projected to be more than 25 billion internet-connected devices online by the end of this decade. That means more data. In fact, the quantity of data creation is expected to increase to more than 180 zettabytes over the next five years.
These numbers boggle the mind — and they put consumers, businesses, and policymakers on edge.
Enter Basis Theory.
Basis Theory has built a developer platform for encryption and tokenization that can accommodate any type of data (including sensitive payments data). The company, launched in 2021 and fully distributed, helps financial services and financial technology clients stay in complete control of their customer’s data without taking on the compliance burden. The company was built during the COVID-19 pandemic, when, overnight, consumers become even more reliant on technology to shop, order take out, see their doctor and, of course, bank. Over those months of isolation, founders Brian Billingsley, Colin Luce, and Ben Milne and their team of engineers “built a secure PCI-compliant foundation to enable the collection and storage of payments data” on the Basis Theory platform.
Milne has written that he, Billingsley, and Luce wanted to create a company that could “offer a product to developers globally to help make protecting data easier.” Why? As he explained, “In many cases it’s not just about securing data at rest in all of these devices but about enabling privacy for end users ensuring their data only goes to third parties who are capable of protecting it. That’s a trend [that] will continue until it’s solved by a company or a protocol, but more likely some combination of both.”
Basis Theory also helps its clients:
- Adhere to privacy regulations and comply with new and upcoming regulations, domestically and internationally, including PCI and the new Nacha rules;
- Optimize payments acceptance;
- Safely secure and manage user credentials and third-party API keys; and
- Secure any data, document, or image a client does not want stored in plaintext.
Basis Theory became a part of FDATA North American and the North American open banking movement to “ensure the safety, security and privacy of the continued proliferation of data sprawl and not let any associated concerns stifle innovation within financial services”.
To win a game of marbles, a player must hit a series of targets. That same goal can be applied to improving a person’s financial standing — which is how FDATA member company Marble got its name. Marbles’ proprietary MyMarble platform utilizes the power of machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence, in leveraging its proven data-driven strategies through technology solutions Inverite, Point Deduction Technology®, Fast-Track and Learn. MyMarble utilizes scientific, algorithmic, and mathematical software that is based on rigorous banking and credit weighted algorithms, that analyzes data to identify where the impacts are placed on a credit files and banking history. This helps consumer engage in and navigate a clear path towards financial wellbeing and a meaningful credit score.
The core success to the MyMarble platform derives from its open banking and data collection strategy through the utilization of Inverite and Score Navigator’s Point Deduction Technology®. Inverite boasts connectivity to 288 Financial Institutions’ access points which is 15X greater than its closest competitor in Canada. Inverite also has the highest (99% vs 93%) implied consumer coverage and the fastest processing time by a factor of two over its competition. Its leading AI-based model Risk Score is trained from millions of banking verification requests and loan outcomes. Inverite has an international presence with coverage of FI’s in the South American market and will continue to expand its AI offering as Marble expands into other global markets.
How does Marble work in practice?
As Marble member Rich explained, the first step is expanding access to vital financial services platforms. Rich was looking for a program to help manage his debts, but most he found had a minimum credit score requirement to even apply. Rich joined Marble’s Premium program on May 30, 2020. He closely followed Marble’s monthly recommendations on when he should pay off certain debts and how much he should be put towards those debts. He also used the company’s simulators to determine what targets he needed to hit to reach his goal credit score. Within nine months, Ryan’s score increased from 480 to 663, a gain of 183 points.
In 2021, Marble launched two new initiatives that will help it serve even more Canadians.
In May, Marble launched GIC Savings Loans with Jenson Graf Risk Management Inc. The partnership will give Jenson Graf a progressive software solution that will automate its GIC Savings Loan application and approval process.
In June, Marble announced it’s new API solution Marble Connect. This revolutionary B2B product utilizes detailed risk assessment, consumer financial data, and a fully functional business & consumer portal. Marble Connect offers Canadian businesses a new turnkey marketing, education, and products solution for the broader audience of consumers looking to execute on more future business to connect through Marble’s financial fitness platform, MyMarble.
What sort of promise does open banking and customer-directed finance hold for Canadians? As Marble Financial CEO Karim Nanji has said, “The amalgamation of customer data provides an opportunity for Marble to offer and deliver more efficient processing and approvals of credit solutions. Ultimately, we collect the customers goals which along with the consolidation of financial data creates an opportunity for us and our partners to access this information to provide new services and more robust solutions in the areas of personal finance, money management including savings, investment, tax and insurance.”
In 1984, Canada’s top financial institutions came together to create Interac Association, a cooperative venture dedicated to giving Canadians broader access to their money through a single shared network. Twelve years later, eight of the founding institutions created Acxsys Corporation, a new entity that would develop new business partnerships and services for financial transfer, online payments, and international services.
To better fund innovation and reduce certain business, operating and legal complexities, the two entities reorganized in 2018 to form Interac Corp. Today, Interac is one of the most trusted financial service brands in Canada, operating an economical, world-class debit payments system with broad-based acceptance, reliability, security, and efficiency, helping more than 30 million Canadians families and businesses feel more in control of their money.
The Interac team are natural collaborators. They know that the benefits of co-operation outweigh the risks of fragmentation. The diversity of thought that exists when companies (and even competitors) come together produces better outcomes and solutions. Interac is a proud member of FDATA North America and is actively working with industry and government colleagues across the ecosystem to explore open banking solutions for Canadians.
The financial services company’s Innovation Lab and New Ventures team has a mandate to look ahead at the company’s three plus year horizon for new innovations. They research, develop strategies and pilot new solutions before taking them to market.
A foundational requirement of emerging solutions is to build consumer trust. Canadians need to trust that new technology is not only secure, but that it will provide meaningful benefits in their lives. A recent Interac survey found being in control of their financial data is important to 90 per cent of respondents, and more than half said a new financial data sharing option will “greatly benefit” Canadian consumers.
At Interac, leaders share in this optimism for open banking to support consumer needs and they are committed to collaborating with financial institutions and fintech companies and serving as a bridge for the ecosystem. The team sees great promise for Canada’s future open banking framework to enable the development of data-driven products and services that will increase access to affordable solutions tackling pressing personal and business needs such as debt reduction, benefits processing, financial planning, and the provision of faster loans.
Oscar Roque, VP, Strategy and Emerging Solutions at Interac, sees an opportunity to form a minimum viable ecosystem (MVE) for open banking, grounded in a clear, easy, and transparent consent experience. “Our collective participation in building an MVE will set the stage for data portability and empower Canadians to take control of their data – all for the betterment of our society.”