How FinTech Startups are Making Life Easier
How FinTech Startups are Making Life Easier
2022 is the second year for the annual Equifax Accelerate Program and developer challenge in partnership with 1871. 1871 is a Chicago-based business incubator that supports early stage tech start-ups, growth stage tech leaders, and corporate innovators. At Equifax, we are here to challenge U.S. based software developers. Many of the top 10 finalists are using the powerful suite of Equifax Cloud™-enabled Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to create transformative solutions designed to foster financial inclusion and improve access to services. Before the product showcase, on November 17, 2022, I interviewed our top 10 finalists on each of their companies and how they plan to use Equifax APIs in the future.
The company Mini City arose from a hackathon based in Metro Atlanta. The Hackathon had a simple call to action: how can we make gentrification in our city more economically inclusive for all. Mini City’s focus during this hackathon was on the homeless, and bridging access gaps for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Mini City is achieving this by providing the homeless access to life's critical resources via a tech hub.
Before starting Mini City, India Jha and fellow founder Herold Raymond (Co-Founder, Advisor) were volunteering their services at women’s homeless shelters within Metro Atlanta. According to India, Mini City “started at a grassroots level, and will always remain centered around the population we serve”.
In its early days, the company offered their solution manually in shelters before moving to a web platform. The global pandemic accelerated the need for resources amongst the homeless, which accelerated their technical roadmap as well. By 2020, they released an improved app and series of internal portals to increase impact and scale.
When asked about taking part in the Accelerate program, India stated, “Since our inception, we have aimed to work with a partner like Equifax- specifically we were set on Equifax as a “dream partner” due to them being a global leader in data. Prior to using Mini City, it took our partners 6-9 months to obtain vital records and resources for the homeless. With the Mini City software, it was taking weeks.
With Equifax’s cloud enabled APIs, we can connect the needy to critical resources at a rapid rate. We are looking at verifying identity information in mere seconds. That is true innovation for someone that is on the brink of, or actively experiencing homelessness.”
A favorite quote India has received from an advisor in the past is, “In the beginning, your technology will be low fidelity because you are just starting out. However, something that should always be in abundance is your team’s level of compassion and empathy for those you serve.”
The entire Mini City team stands by this quote and credits their early success to this team value. To learn more about Mini City visit their site here.
Credit health is a popular topic in the fintech world. EQL Finance is a smart fintech platform focused on changing the financial outcomes of working-class Americans. Their goal is to help build the credit health of their consumers with Equifax APIs. When Ramzy Ismail, EQL Finance’s Vice President of Growth, was asked how EQL Finance started, he explained the mission of helping low-to moderate-income families access financial services and products.
“EQL Finance extends a helping hand to working-class families through an interest-free cash advance program combined with financial literacy and coupons. This starting point with EQL allows consumers to build credit-worthy habits, increase financial confidence, and gain access to curated and difficult-to-access financial products and services. EQL’s goal is to be there for households in need and continue to grow with them toward financial health.” states Ismail.
According to Ismail, 150 million Americans live paycheck to paycheck, including households making six figures and above. This statistic demonstrates the importance of financial health and EQL Finance’s mission and how participating in the Equifax Accelerate Program will help them scale financial inclusion. EQL Finance will use Equifax APIs and data products to understand their users better and create increased access to capital through better underwriting.
Ismail exclaims, “With the Equifax APIs, we empower EQL users with total credit visibility, insights, and coaching on their credit journey. Our goal is to build the financial health of our users through credit and community impact.”
To learn more about EQL Finance visit their site here.
VacayHQ knows how important vacation and well deserved time off is for all. VacayHQ combines travel with personal finance by showing consumers how to build their credit so they can qualify for the best travel reward credit cards. "We make it easy for anyone to turn good credit into free travel."
When interviewing Founder Damondrick Jack, “D.J.” for short, he explained how he formed the company stating, “VacayHQ all started because I am a financial coach. I have my own financial education nonprofit and am passionate about helping people improve their credit.”
However, D.J. knew there was a difference between people wanting to improve their credit versus them taking the necessary steps to do so. As he discovered during his 100+ financial coaching sessions, a great way to inspire action was by linking good credit to free travel. This especially applies as we continue to come out of a pandemic, where vacation is top of mind for many people.
When asked how D.J. knows all about travel and credit, he stated he is a “travel hacker” and has traveled all over the world for free all because of credit card reward points. Now, it may sound like fun, but according to D.J., selecting the right cards in the right order is more challenging than you'd think. That is where VacayHQ comes into play. "We show you exactly which cards to get (and when to get them) based on your personal travel preferences. VacayHQ makes it simple for anyone to increase their credit, qualify for the perfect travel cards, and save a fortune on their next vacay!"
How does Equifax and the Accelerate program help with this mission? According to D.J., “Equifax has all five factors built into their API suite called the Consumer Engagement Suite. It shows users their credit score and provides a credit coach to improve their score.”
As for advice to other start-up companies, D.J. states, “Make sure you are building something that people want. You need to talk to your users. Another piece of advice, talk to people out of your league. What I have learned in the Equifax Accelerate program is that there are people out there who are far beyond you in terms of knowledge who are willing to help. Equifax has definitely rolled out the red carpet for us.”
To learn more about VacayHQ visit their site here.
Digital experiences are pervasive throughout every aspect of our lives, that includes the lending business. Neofin, a fintech SaaS that brings a Shopify-like experience to lending, is the first fully no- code lending automation platform in the world. Neofin has launched a new onboarding and decision engine capabilities utilizing Equifax data and services. Svitlanka Sergiichuk, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Neofin, spoke about the importance of her company and how it enables financial institutions to be fully automated, flexible, and competitive, becoming the technological leaders in online lending.
Sergiichuk exclaims, “Community banks, credit unions and many other FIs are losing the market for being too conservative and not flexible with their credit operations and tech stack. No-code lending tech stack should make the launch of a new attractive credit product should be pleasure, not pain.”
According to Sergiichuk, this led to the software development of Neofin, which allows the release of any credit product or service in a day, based on the fully no-code platform functionalities, with no technical team involved. The solution covers all the borrower’s journey - from the credit application and loan origination up to the servicing, underwriting, scoring, decisioning and then collection.
An important module to Neofin is identification and scoring. That is where Sergiichuk feels, “Equifax is coming into play. Right now Neofin offers its proprietary decision engine, and during Equifax Accelerate, Neofin has released an Underwriting Studio inside the decision engine. This is a unique instrument that allows to quickly launch, test and run the underwriting strategies on the go, in seconds, with no development teams involved. Moreover, it has the pre-set scoring models developed together with Equifax to make the launch of any new credit product even faster and easier.”
During the Accelerate program, Neofin has created an opportunity for customers by using Equifax’s APIs to access the technological solutions that have not been present on the market before, and advance their businesses.
To learn more about Neofin visit their site here.
If you are interested in learning more about the Equifax Accelerate program, view our site here for more information.