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UK-based blockchain payments platform Billion secures $100,000 grant 

Valentina Isakina
Valentina Isakina

After a rigorous global process and rounds of technical and qualitative reviews,Fintech71 has officially chosen its inaugural cohort of financial technology startups. The ten startups were formally announced today at Finovate in New York City. Three European companies, from the U.K., Ireland and Portugal, are among the ten winners.

London-based Billion Group has been named one of the fintechs in the first cohort, in recognition of its groundbreaking platform for financial transactions using distributed ledger to exchange regulated currencies.

The announcement coincides with more corporate partners declaring support for the effort. In the last few weeks, Accenture, Klarna Inc., Westfield Insurance and Corporate One Federal Credit Union Inc. have also joined the extensive ranks of the private sector partners which already include companies, banks and insurers such as KeyBank, Huntington Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Grange Insurance, Progressive Insurance and Kroger, the largest food chain in the USA.

Fintech71, a first-of-its-kind nonprofit accelerator, is run by Ohio-based industry leaders to spur innovation and growth and is supported by JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation with the mission to grow the economy and bring jobs and investment to the state. The intensive ten-week programme is designed to accelerate access to top financial services companies and expand the innovation pipeline for private-sector stakeholders.

 “We are thrilled about the quality and diversity of this inaugural cohort,”said Matt Armstead, executive director for Fintech71. “In fact, half of the teams are international and represent specialties ranging from blockchain to personal finance. We believe our ten-week programme will provide an ideal springboard for these companies to graduate from emerging startups to scalable businesses, especially with access to many Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 partners across Ohio.”

Valentina Isakina, chair of the Fintech71 Board of Directors and managing director for financial services at JobsOhio, said Fintech71 received a phenomenal response with applicants from across the globe and is excited to welcome the startups to Ohio.

“We are fortunate to have the business landscape and collaborative culture to support a unique venture, such as Fintech71 and be attractive for global fintechs,” Isakina said. “Ohio is home to a multitude of global financial and retail leaders, many of whom are backing Fintech71, eager to both mentor and do business with smart, innovative fintech companies.”

Each startup was required to have at least one fintech product or solution prototype in the market and a minimum of two team members attend the full programme in person.

The 10 winners, selected to the inaugural cohort are:

  • Billon (UK) – Blockchain-based payments platform
  • Elafris (US/San Francisco) – AI/virtual insurance agent
  • Hexanika (India/NYC) – End-to-end Regtech and Big Data automation for banks
  • ID-Pal (Ireland) – KYC authentication and onboarding solution
  • James  (Portugal/NYC) – Machine learning credit risk solution for banks
  • LateShift (US/Atlanta) – Income optimisation tool for independent workforce
  • PayKey (Israel) – White-label money transfer to anyone on any social platform
  • SafeChain (US/Ohio) – Title insurance optimisation via blockchain
  • SKOOKii (US/Phoenix) – All-in-one payment platform for K-12 schools
  • “Stealth” stage (US/Ohio) – Commercial insurance technology for agents

Over the 10 weeks the startups will receive:

  • Stipend of $100,000 in exchange for a flexible, stage-appropriate equity stake.
  • Access to all of the participating companies’ C-level decision-makers.
  • Access to over 100 of world-class mentors across a wide range of industries with daily one-on-one mentor support.
  • Technical advisory support by Accenture for each team.
  • Introductions to potential clients and stakeholders across the state, including site visits to Cleveland and Cincinnati.
  • Six months of free office space from start of programme in downtown Columbus.

The cohort will officially start the week of September 18 and finish by Thanksgiving.