AI & Finance™ | News for the Week Ending 4/19/24

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A lot is happening with artificial intelligence in financial services—the news items within this week’s AI in Finance newsletter represent broad and diverse applications of this new technology. 

This week alone we have new developments in the fascinating nexus between AI and blockchain technology, news about AI in cybersecurity and identity verification, new and updated AI copilots and assistants, AI in insuretech, AI in financial planning, AI in ETF portfolio management, AI in trading, AI in lending, and more. It’s a lot to unpack. 

However, sometimes, as an editor, I have the privilege to highlight something that tickles my particular fancy, and so this week I’m including an extra news item. A company called Humane just announced the general availability of what it calls the “Humane AI Pin” — a wearable artificial intelligence assistant about the size of a button or badge that could be worn on a shirt or jacket. 

That’s right, AI has allowed a company to bring to market a working device that is the rough equivalent of a Star Trek: The Next Generation communicator badge. Yes, I’m aware that somewhat similar devices—like smart watches and wearable telephony/communicator devices like the Vocera badge—have been available for nearly two decades—but this one has an on-board AI operating system that can work as a translator in more than 50 languages, answer questions about the world around the wearer, take notes, record audio and video, record and summarize meetings, and assist with research and with idea generation. 

So, what does this have to do with financial services? Well, technology like Humane’s is about to make consumer- and client-facing professionals a lot less dependent on their screens. We’re going to get eye contact back into some of our professional and business relationships. On top of the time-saving benefits, the new services and efficiencies that artificial intelligence can offer, it could very well allow us to bring more humanity into financial services. 

I think that’s something we should all be looking forward to. This week, we have items from FICO, HighRadius, MassMutual, TIFIN, and Wells Fargo, with a total of 15 companies included in this week’s overview.

READ ON…..


1. aelf 

aelf, the high-performance Layer 1 blockchain, and AgentLayer, the world’s first decentralised network tailored for AI agents, have formed a strategic alliance to advance the integration of blockchain with artificial intelligence. Together, they aim to launch a pioneering decentralised AI infrastructure and ecosystem. This alliance plans to bring together stakeholders from across Asia — including leading researchers, startups, government bodies, and industry experts — to collaboratively develop and expand AI-enhanced blockchain infrastructure and applications through open innovation. 

The alliance between aelf and AgentLayer, aimed at developing a decentralised AI infrastructure, is set to establish new benchmarks in the AI and blockchain sectors. Together, blockchain and AI technologies can drive forward innovations that are only achievable with each operating in collaboration. This synergy not only improves performance but also opens up new avenues for advanced, decentralised applications and research networks. This pioneering initiative is expected to drive significant advancements in foundational Layer 1 and Layer 2 solutions, networks of AI computational resources and a comprehensive suite of decentralised AI agents. 

2. Arch 

Arch, a digital admin platform modernizing private investment operations and investor communications celebrated Tax Day with the addition of several new innovative tools to its platform. Aimed at streamlining the user experience, these new functionalities will provide financial advisors, private investment firms, accountants and individual allocators with a smart workflow solution that offers unique insights into individual investments and broader portfolios. In addition to enhanced insights, these tools reduce time spent on the cumbersome administrative responsibilities typically associated with private markets investing. 

As the momentum for private markets continues, the digital infrastructure needed to support this influx in volume must evolve. To meet growing demand, Arch continually gathers detailed client feedback with a focus on delivering more automation and insights across client portfolios. 

Additionally, Arch’s clients can expect a new look from the firm’s most heavily used resource, the Arch Digest, an email summary of all capital calls needing completion, K-1 arrivals, and all other documentation received by Arch. Delivering on its mission to empower tech-enabled private markets investing, all of these new features come after the firm’s most recent set of enhancements, including the enriched layer of data provided by Direct Company Insights and the centralized, collaborative Statement Tracker dashboard. 

3. Conquest Planning 

Conquest Planning Inc. (“Conquest”), a technology platform modernizing financial planning with customized and convenient advice, today announced a partnership with Desjardins Financial Security Investments, a leading mutual fund dealer in Canada. Through this collaboration, Conquest’s intuitively designed financial planning platform has become available to nearly 1,400 independent advisors affiliated with the Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN), Desjardins Financial Security Investments (DFSI) and SFL Wealth Management distribution networks across Canada. 

With access to Conquest’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform, advisors can leverage its strategic advice manager (SAM) to help their clients easily understand the impact of decisions on their holistic financial plans. SAM’s proprietary algorithm uses clients’ specific plan data to suggest a variety of ranked and prioritized strategies specific to their financial situations. Designed to make the financial planning process more interactive, SAM offers easy-to-understand recommendations that outline the impact a decision could have on each goal and the overall financial plan. 

In addition to tailored plan recommendations, Conquest’s software is built to evolve in line with clients’ changing life circumstances, objectives, priorities and risk tolerances. Using Conquest, advisors can provide ‘smart’ advice directly to clients by simplifying the interface and embedding in-context financial literacy information. 

4. FICO 

FICO announced major new enhancements to FICO Platform that improve and expand enterprise collaboration. The updates unlock new methods for organizations to break down silos and get more value out of their data and analytics investments. The open and extensible FICO Platform empowers customers to rapidly onboard a wider range of use cases and tap into an ecosystem of data sources and powerful analytics. 

FICO Platform enhancements enable businesses to expedite their return on investment in data and analytics. This minimizes vendor lock-in by creating an open ecosystem of data, decision intelligence services supported through APIs, a common repository, and an open and extendable platform. Combined with robust business simulation and digital twin capabilities, organizations can also provide their stakeholders with fine-grained control of enterprise-wide scenario experimentation that drives “what-if” scenarios that can have a direct impact on how to mitigate risk and create outsized results. 

FICO Platform customers can now use the latest innovations in AI to consider complex constraints such as available budget, desired profitability and market share, and refine new pricing strategies to discover the optimal actions they need to take. With new engineering improvements, business analysts and domain experts are empowered to leverage optimization modeling that is now up to 8 times faster to build models and 42% faster to solve the mixed integer programming problems that are common in financial services. 

5. HighRadiius 

HighRadius, the provider of Autonomous Finance software for Order-to-Cash, Treasury, and Record-to-Report, announced the launch of their B2B payments platform to improve payment processes across 100+ payment methods globally. The comprehensive B2B payments platform encompasses a trio of essential products: Payment Gateway, Surcharge Management, and Interchange Fee Optimizer, all seamlessly integrated to elevate financial efficiency. 

Companies want to make it easier for their customers to make payments globally. The emergence of regional payment methods and the high cost of processing credit cards are significant challenges in this digitalization journey. In response to this growing demand for cost-effective B2B payment solutions, HighRadius elevates its payment gateway to a standalone platform that supports 150+ currencies from various digital commerce channels like E-Commerce and Order Management platforms. 

As an example, companies pay the processor a 1.5 – 3% interchange fee when accepting payments made via credit card. The interchange fee depends on the type of data sent to the processor, which varies across card providers. The Interchange Fee Optimizer module has been strategically designed to automatically populate any missing data, adhering to pre-configured rules, thereby ensuring the attainment of the lowest possible interchange fees. HighRadius also introduces a Surcharge management module that addresses the practice of ‘surcharging,’ a legally permissible means of passing a portion of the processing fee to the buyer. Operating in real-time, this module empowers companies to validate surcharge applicability and seamlessly pass on interchange fees to their buyers. The solution aligns with regional regulations, which differ on a state/province level and among various card brands. 

6. IDIQ 

IDIQ, a financial intelligence company that empowers consumers to take everyday action to control their financial well-being, announced today the launch of CreditBuilderIQSM, a game-changing platform giving individuals the tools needed to establish, manage, and build their credit scores, allowing them to navigate their financial lives successfully. 

Through the IDIQ suite of identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and financial wellness tools, serving millions of consumers and thousands of business partners, the company has had a first-hand view into the consumer need for an all-in-one, digital financial and credit management tool. With consumer debt at an all-time high, rising delinquencies, and reduced credit availability, consumers more than ever need to take control of their credit and financial health. 

Whether it’s securing a dream home, saving thousands of dollars in interest, accessing competitive rentals without unnecessary security deposits, getting a credit card with the most favorable terms, or enjoying other financial opportunities, a good credit profile is critical. CreditBuilderIQ has tools, resources, and product features to help consumers understand, grow, and build their credit profile. 

7. Joba Network 

Joba Network, the Web3 startup that aims to revolutionize work utilizing verified identities, announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount in a round led by Japan-based Decima Fund, with the participation of notable angel investors. Decima Fund is a Web3 investment fund with a Japan angle – committed to bridging the Japanese market with the rest of the world. 

Joba Network is a decentralized platform powered by blockchain and artificial intelligence, allowing people to earn on-chain reputation and build borderless credit for their identity. The startup targets the new online economy of global digital nomads and businesses to ensure trust and security in the ecosystem. The new funding announced today will be used to advance the project’s goal to build the infrastructure for the future of work, and enter the Japanese market, where labor shortages pose a significant challenge with the aging society. 

Joba Network utilizes AI to connect freelance workers with businesses based on credentials and experience. On-chain verification of their identity allows users to remain anonymous while ensuring secure business interactions. The startup aims to be the bridge working alongside government and financial institutions to utilize on-chain credential technology for verification of global citizens. This development will allow users of the platform to access loans or visas based on their remote work experience. 

8. Lama AI 

Lama AI announced it will join the Mastercard Engage Partner Program, which makes it simple for partners to build, launch and grow payment solutions for Mastercard’s global network of customers and accelerate time to market for product innovation. Mastercard Engage partners contribute different components and integration capabilities to enable seamless payment experiences. Lama AI focuses on supporting banks in digitizing and automating their lending practices, utilizing Mastercard Installments. 

Small and medium businesses represent approximately 90% of enterprises, contributing to over 50% of employment and serving as significant contributors to the global GDP. However, this significant segment has encountered challenges in securing financial credit lines with traditional financial institutions. Lama AI aims to bridge this gap by supporting banks and credit unions in unlocking the potential of this asset class. 

By leveraging the power of AI, big data, and network effects, Lama has set a new standard for both borrowers and lenders, streamlining the entire lending process to make it more user-friendly, efficient, and faster. The platform utilizes data sources and generative AI to significantly reduce application processing time and provide high quality data for automated credit decisioning. 

9. MassMutual 

Financial professionals who choose to affiliate with MassMutual can now offer their clients property and casualty (P&C) insurance, both personal and commercial lines, available through Insurify, America’s top-rated insurance comparison platform. 

This is one of the latest additions to MassMutual’s suite of wealth management and protection solutions. With this new offering, financial professionals affiliated with MassMutual can access leading AI-driven technology alongside a dedicated in-person specialist team for all administrative and operational needs, including recommendations based on client criteria, competitive quotes, and policy placement and renewal services, and offer clients seamless, online insurance comparison from over one hundred quality P&C insurers in one place. 

10. Mphasis 

Mphasis, an Information Technology (IT) solutions provider specializing in cloud and cognitive services, announced a multi-year global agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The collaboration marks a significant milestone as Mphasis establishes the Gen AI Foundry, led by Mphasis.AI, a dedicated business unit focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, AI use case assessments, consulting, and business transformation. 

The Gen AI Foundry will serve as a dynamic platform for modeling industry use cases and developing proof of concepts (POCs)—initially within the financial services Industry, with plans to expand across other sectors. This virtual forum will offer clients the opportunity to experience demos and POCs either at the Mphasis Experience Centre in NYC or AWS Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in NYC, providing a showcase of generative AI solutions tailored to the client’s needs and objectives. 

With the rise of generative AI as a powerful tool, the Foundry is dedicated to facilitating its adoption in financial services firms, aiding in accelerating efficiencies and fostering business transformation. Solutions such as Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) automates data extraction and analysis, minimizing errors and streamlining workflows, leading to substantial time and cost savings. Additionally, utilizing generative AI for contact center transformation enhances customer engagement and operational efficiency through automated processes and personalized interactions. 

11. NeuReality 

NeuReality, an AI infrastructure technology company, announced the release of a new software developer portal and demo for easy installation of its full software stack and APIs. This marks a significant milestone for NeuReality since delivery and activation of its 7nm AI inference server-on-a-chip, the NR1 NAPU™, and successful bring up of its entire NR1 AI hardware and software system in the first quarter. 

The NR1™ AI Inference Solution enables businesses and governments to run new AI training models and existing AI applications without over-investing millions in scarce GPUs. Regardless of AI accelerator performance, CPUs remain the primary performance bottlenecks in AI Inference, resulting in excessive power consumption and cost, making the most exciting AI innovations impossible for the majority of organizations to install and operate today. 

The system successfully met target functionality and performance requirements, covering server-on-chip (SOC), IP, and software aspects. This achievement marked its readiness for early customer pilots, particularly with cloud service providers, financial services, and healthcare sectors for computer vision, automatic speech recognition and natural language processing – laying an affordable foundation for generative AI, multi-modality, and more advanced technologies to come. NeuReality attributed the swift bring-up process of the NR1 system to robust architecture and rigorous emulation testing conducted before the 2023 tape out in collaboration with Synopsys. 

12. Pineapple Financial 

Pineapple Financial announced the launch of Doc Genius, an intuitive, end-to-end document management system that seamlessly connects the highly-secured client portal to the deal conditions in the PineappleONE mortgage application, thereby streamlining the entire process. 

Doc Genius empowers Pineapple brokers to effortlessly communicate to their clients vital details necessary for expediting the mortgage process and, at the same time, elevates client satisfaction by providing comprehensive guidance supplemented with engaging visuals and practical samples, ensuring a seamless experience without unnecessary delays. 

Doc Genius serves as a comprehensive solution, offering guidance to Pineapple brokers and clients to generate the necessary documents to fulfill mortgage requirements while ensuring compliance. The need to manually email clients regarding outstanding conditions becomes obsolete, as Doc Genius autonomously follows up until all requisite files are collected. Moreover, it ceases document requests automatically once all conditions are satisfied, providing continuous updates to brokers throughout the process. 

13. StockSnips 

StockSnips announced the launch of its first ETF, NEWZ, now trading on (NASDAQ). StockSnips AI-powered Sentiment US All Cap ETF (NEWZ) represents a significant leap forward in the integration of artificial intelligence and natural language processing within financial markets, offering investors a unique opportunity for long-term capital appreciation. This advancement is underpinned by the firms’ substantial investments in AI technology and comprehensive validation of models, reflecting years of innovation and commitment to building AI that has the advantage of recognizing patterns that are non-stationary, an issue with current traditional quantitative models. 

StockSnips stands apart from conventional ETF Managers, born from the vision of AI and Data Science specialists. The founders bring over six decades of AI experience to the table, including entrepreneurial success with their prior ventures. The inspiration behind launching NEWZ stems from a commitment to empower investors in navigating the overwhelming surge of information (News Media) via the use of AI. Understanding the challenges investors face in navigating the relentless flow of information, the firm utilizes AI technology to transform the way investors stay updated and make informed decisions. 

14. TIFIN 

TIFIN, an AI and innovation platform for wealth, announces the appointment of Rob Pettman as its Chief Revenue Officer and President. In his new role, Pettman will report directly to TIFIN’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Vinay Nair. 

With a proven track record of leadership and success in the financial services sector, Pettman brings a wealth of experience and expertise to TIFIN. He joins the company from LPL Financial, where he was Executive Vice President of Wealth Management Solutions. In this role, he was responsible for managing LPL’s wealth management platform, including overseeing investment product distribution, advisory platforms, research, retirement plan business, and relationships with product and technology companies. Throughout his 19 years at LPL, Mr. Pettman worked in various roles across product management and wealth management strategy. 

In his role as Chief Revenue Officer and President, Pettman will oversee revenue generation strategies, forge strategic partnerships, and drive the company’s growth initiatives across TIFIN’s companies. His leadership adds to TIFIN’s market presence and its position as a leader in AI-powered financial technology in the wealth management industry.  

15. Wells Fargo 

TradeSun and Wells Fargo have entered into an agreement that will enable Wells Fargo to leverage the industry leading trade finance and compliance digitization solution from TradeSun, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies to streamline the complex and manual processes employed globally within the banking industry. 

TradeSun’s major new release is reinventing trade finance digitalization as it breaks new ground in the world of cognitive data capture and intelligent process automation and takes compliance screening and document checking to new levels. TradeSun’s trade-focused AI will help deliver Wells Fargo’s goals by automating manual processes that will increase capacity to drive new business. 

Wells Fargo will utilize the TradeSun AI platform to digitize, extract, validate, and classify unstructured data for use with compliance and document checking.