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Two companies from New York, one from Mexico City and one from Little Rock are among the 10 early-stage businesses chosen for the second Financial Technology Accelerator program, the Venture Center said Wednesday.

The 10 companies are eGiftify of Little Rock; Alpharank of San Francisco; Alto IRA of Nashville, Tenn.; Bond.ai of New York; Hedge Hog of Detroit; HTC Mobile Apps of Austin, Texas; Omnetrium of Chicago; Quotanda of Mexico City; WalletFi of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Xplanr of New York.

The 10 companies will have access to some of the top executives at Fidelity National Information Services Inc., better known as FIS Global. FIS Global initiated the accelerator program in 2015 with the Venture Center, the site in downtown Little Rock for the accelerator training.

"FIS has always been about applying advanced technology to the real-world challenges facing our clients, and this program is a great example of that spirit of applied innovation," said Gary Norcross, FIS Global's chief executive officer. "Together with the state of Arkansas and the Venture Center, we are helping to develop and foster innovations that will make a difference for financial institutions around the world."

FIS Global is based in Jacksonville, Fla., but has about 1,200 employees in Little Rock. It has more than 57,000 employees worldwide, about 23,000 financial clients and more than $9 billion in annual revenue.

"This is about sponsoring innovation in Arkansas," Rob Lee, FIS Global's chief product officer, said of the accelerator program.

The Financial Technology Accelerator program focuses exclusively on startup companies that work with banks.

This year's program, which includes intensive mentoring from FIS Global executives, began Monday and concludes July 28.

The accelerator program is "a great opportunity for clients to know that FIS continues to think outside the box," said Jack Novielli, executive vice president for strategic product integration.

Applications were submitted by 295 companies, including 40 from other countries, Lee said. That was narrowed to 68 firms that went through due diligence, Lee said.

WalletFi helps millennials better manage online payments on their credit cards, Lee said, describing a couple of the 10 selected companies.

"Over time, your credit-card bill begins to balloon," Lee said.

WalletFi keeps track of all reoccurring credit-card charges for services and displays them in a form where the customer can see any redundancies, Lee said.

The founder of Quotanda, who lives in Mexico City, is a U.S. citizen who went to college and graduate school in Spain, Lee said. The entrepreneur realized that the student-loan environment was underserved in Mexico and Spain. So he developed a student-lending application for those countries using U.S. innovations, Lee said.

"The personal stories [behind the companies] are important because personal issues drove them to create their businesses," Lee said. "It's more likely they'll figure out a solution to that if it's personal."

Six of last year's startup companies in the first Financial Technology Accelerator program were chosen to be part of the FIS High Potential Network, a collection of firms that have demonstrated substantial promise in the development of new tools and technologies that deliver innovation for FIS Global's clients.

The six companies from last year's accelerator program include Akouba, which improves processing for small-business loans; Bleu, which provides wireless merchant point-of-sale and retail sales management tools; Flutterwave, which allows merchants, payment service providers and African banks to accept payments; Fundseeder, a risk management and trading verification platform for traders; Hexanika, software that brings costs savings of up to 40 percent to the regulatory reporting process; and LumoXchange, which offers a low-cost payment process to compare currency exchange rates and send money online internationally.

Lee said two of last year's 10 companies have relocated to Little Rock -- LumoXchange and PFITR. Another company, Fundseeder, is negotiating to move to Fayetteville, he said.

All 10 of last year's firms were invited to participate in FIS Global's semiannual conference in Orlando, Fla., for FIS Global customers, Lee said. The accelerator businesses were exposed to thousands of FIS Global clients, Lee said.

That will be repeated for the second class on May 22, he said.

Business on 05/11/2017

Print Headline: Startups getting LR tech stimulus

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  • RBear
    May 11, 2017 at 7:34 a.m.

    Excited to see these startups kick off the second year of the Venture Center's Financial Technology Accelerator program. FIS's commitment to help make Arkansas a financial technology leader is fantastic and it brings teams into the city who sometimes relocate here. Regardless, having a brain trust of FinTech entrepreneurs is creating innovation that the governor is hoping to foster.
    ...
    Last night, Gov. Hutchinson also announced the results of this past year's high school coding initiative with a 400% increase in students enrolled in coding classes throughout the state. These accelerators are the end of the pipeline that starts in high school. Couple that with strong programs at some of our state's universities and you have the opportunity to change the economy in Arkansas.

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