FinCon16 gave us the second annual FinTech competition, the first ever early-stage business competition dedicated to technology products and solutions for the consumer-facing personal finance and investing verticals.
The competition was presented in partnership with SoFi, who chose this year’s winner Kavout, to participate in their Entrepreneur Program.
Though there could be only one winner, each and every one of the competitors offers consumers an innovative solution to a personal finance or investing problem.
Here is what you need to know about the twelve startups that competed in this year’s FinTech Competition:
The Winner: Kavout
The judges awarded first place—which included a $4,000 cash prize—to Kavout, an artificial intelligence-driven investment platform designed for investors at any level. The program is designed to help you efficiently create a data-based investment portfolio that you can feel confident about managing.
The core of Kavout is their AI, Kai, which examines millions of data points while analyzing filings and stock quotes—as well as news and social media—to give you the most up-to-date, clear, and accurate view of any available stock’s current value and its potential.
Kavout is an excellent program for investors who want to maintain a hands-on approach to their investments but are leery of keeping up with all of the information necessary to make intelligent choices. Not only does the program offer you the necessary information in easily understood and accessible terms, but Kavout also allows you to practice without using real money before you invest, giving you the chance to learn about investing in a no-stress scenario.
Read our full review of Kavout.
The Runner-Up: Debitize
For consumers who have trouble with credit card spending, Debitize has the answer. When you sign up with Debitize (which is currently still in beta testing), the program monitors your credit card activity and automatically transfers the amount of your credit card transaction from your checking account into your Debitize account. Then, the program automatically pays your credit card bill each month with the money set aside in your Debitize account.
To make sure Debitize does not overdraw your checking account, you can set up a minimum balance account. The program will notify you when this happens, and it will continue to monitor your checking account for deposits so it can transfer the necessary funds. If you encounter an emergency and need to access the funds in your Debitize account, you may request a transfer back to your checking account—although the program discourages this unless necessary.
Debitize will not work for individuals with a serious spending or credit problem. But for the average consumer, this can be a great program for getting a handle on credit card spending.
Get started with Debitize.
How do you teach teens the financial skills they will need as they reach adulthood? CashCrunch 101 has created a free digital board game to answer that question. The game allows teens as young as 13 to learn the basics of finance in a fun and unintimidating manner. Founder Paul Vasey writes, “[teens can] play our games and make the mistakes in a virtual world where games can be restarted and the environment is fun.”
The CashCrunchGames site also offers resources for teachers who would like to incorporate the game into a financial literacy curriculum, as well as videos and additional blogs to support financial learning. CashCrunch 101 can be played online or off, and there are both Apple and Android apps available for playing on smart phones or tablets.
There is also a CashCrunch Junior physical board game available for purchase, geared towards children aged 7-12.
Get started with CashCrunchGames.
Why can’t the independent investor access the tools used by the pros on Wall Street? DIY.FUND helps investors create and maintain a portfolio based upon the Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). This theory (which is a little tough to summarize in a few words) is all about optimizing returns for risk-averse investors. The program allows you to set your investment goals based upon your risk tolerance, time frame, and other investment values. From there DIY.FUND monitors your portfolio for you, alerting you when your investments need your attention.
All of this is the sort of work that a financial professional would offer you, but this program allows you to DIY your investments while still benefiting from professional-level tools. The basic service through DIY.FUND is free, but there is also a premium model available.
Get started with DIY.FUND.
The cash envelope method of budgeting is the age-old technique for preventing overspending. The problem is that we live in an increasingly cash-less society, and it can be tough to apply envelope budgeting strategies to modern methods of spending.
That’s where Envudu comes in. It’s a budgeting app based upon the cash envelope system. When you sign up, the program asks you to categorize the money in your checking account into separate spending “envelopes.” The program offers an Envelope Wizard that asks you a number of questions and automatically creates envelopes that will fit your budget needs based on your answers.
When you make a purchase, you will open the Envudu app on your phone, select which envelope you are spending from, and swipe your debit card to complete the purchase. If you don’t have your phone available, the app will mark the purchase as uncategorized, and you will be prompted to categorize it the next time you use the app.
Envudu is currently in beta testing and only works with Wells Fargo bank accounts. When it becomes fully available, the program will cost $10 per month. Envudu is only set up to handle debit card purchases.
Get started Envudu.
You have never seen a site like iConsumer before. On the surface, it’s a coupon site that saves you money when you shop and earns you cash back from purchases at the retailers you love. But iConsumer is much more than just a coupon site: when you sign up, you are also become a shareholder in the company. When you earn cash back, you also earn more shares in the company—and if you refer a friend who earns cash back, that earns you more shares.
iConsumer has some pretty big hopes for its future. Signing up with them now means you will own a piece of a startup company, for free—and they hope to become a big deal. If you get in on the ground floor with them now, then you have the potential opportunity to own a part of something very valuable. And since it’s free to sign up, there’s no downside, whether or not iConsumer goes on to become a household name.
Get started with iConsumer.
Children and teens need to save for their futures far more than they need “stuff” for birthdays, Christmas, and graduations. iSow gives young folks a platform to save for their goals with the help of friends and family.
Here’s how it works. Teens who are 13 or older (or young children with the help of a parent) create a profile on the site and set up goals for saving, sharing, and spending. They can then share their profiles to ask for help in funding those goals. Goals can either be geared toward future savings (like college, an investment account, or a car), charitable giving, or spending on big-ticket items.
iSow uses PayPal for the financial side of the program. There is a 5% iSow transaction fee, and PayPal charges 2.9% of the transaction, plus $0.30. However, iSow does donate a small portion of their transaction fees a different child-focused charity each month.
iSow won the “People’s Choice” award at FinTech this year, and were clearly a crowd favorite.
Get started with iSow.
Pocket Change USA
This is a free financial app that uses game play to boost financial knowledge. Pocket Change USA is designed to give users the skills they need to take control of their finances. The app is broken down into four categories: Learn, Play, Plan, and Connect.
The Learn category of the app will help you to better understand seven different finance topics. Play is the gaming portion of the app, which will give you opportunities to practice your financial skills. The Plan portion of the app allows you to tackle your day-to-day financial needs with interactive resources that will help you with your money. And Connect allows you to ask questions of financial experts.
This app is a great, free, low-key way to introduce finance to users who don’t feel confident about their money skills.
Get started with Pocket Change USA.
The team behind the Pluto app recognizes that the path to financial wellness starts with small steps. That means you start by setting your goals with the Pluto app, whether that’s a plan to backpack through Europe, attend this year’s Coachella, or pay off your student loans. Once you have set your goals, which includes spending limits in various categories, you link your financial accounts to the app so the program can automatically track and categorize your transactions. When you spend less than your limit in any spending category or merchant, the difference is automatically set aside toward your goal.
From there, you can take part in bite-sized “Spend Less” challenges, that will help you break your bad spending habits. For instance, you might take part in the “Spend Less on Food and Drinks” challenge, where you try to spend less than your weekly average. The saved money will go toward your goal, all while you start building a better habit for your spending.
Pluto is not currently available, but you can sign up on their website for early access to the app.
Get started with Pluto.
ProActive Budget offers another option for envelope budgeters in the cash-free world. With this program, you will receive a Visa branded ProActive debit card that you will transfer money to and then categorize into virtual envelopes. When it comes time to make a purchase, you will open up the app on your phone and tap which envelope the funds are coming from before swiping your card. If you forget to choose a spending category, you card will be declined.
You are able to also link a credit card to the account. When you use your credit card, ProActive puts the amount of the transaction into a separate category that you can use to pay off your card at the end of the month. If you are unable to use your phone at the time of a purchase, you will not be able to use your ProActive debit card, which seems like it could be problematic if you have any issues with data on your smart phone.
The program costs $60 per year.
Get started with ProActive Budget.
Stock Trend Spotter
The basis of investing is buying low and selling high—but how is the average investor supposed to know when any particular stock is the right price to buy or sell? That’s where Stock Trend Spotter comes in.
The program analyzes over 6,000 stocks on the NYSE and NASDAQ, identifies all the stocks that meet its proprietary performance criteria, and issues Buy signals for the top three performing stocks. The program continues to follow every open signal, and for the stocks that perform well, it will issue up to two Buy Again signals. After the second Buy Again signal, the program will then only issue Reset Stop Loss signals to help investors lock in their profits and minimize their risks. Eventually, Stock Trend Spotter will issue a Sell signal.
The first 30 days of Stock Trend Spotter is free, after which point you will pay $49 per month.
Get started with Stock Trend Spotter.
You went to the gym this morning, even though it was rainy and cold and all you wanted to do was stay under the covers. You deserve a tip for your good work! And now you can Tip Yourself, with the app of the same name.
Here’s how it works: When you sign up with Tip Yourself, you create a secure Tip Jar. Anytime you feel like you deserve a tip, you can transfer a small amount of money from your checking account to your Tip Jar. How small? As little as $1.
The team that created Tip Yourself are big believers in the importance of making progress, rather than looking for financial perfection. The best part of this free app is the fact that you can use it to improve all of your habits, from working out to studying to avoiding Facebook during work hours. It’s an easy and simple method for motivating yourself and increasing your savings.
Get started with Tip Yourself.
Which of these innovative FinTech products would you like to check out to help with managing your finances or support your investing strategy?