Bear State Bank Partners with Fintech Startups, One to Stay in Little Rock

Bear State Bank Partners with Fintech Startups, One to Stay in Little Rock

Bear State Financial Inc. of Little Rock has partnered with two startups — LumoXchange of Atlanta and Monotto of Atlanta — that participated in the first FinTech Accelerator program hosted by the Venture Center of Little Rock and global technology provider FIS of Jacksonville, Florida. 

The announcements were made during a demo day held Wednesday at the Clinton Presidential Library to end the 12-week program, which Gov. Asa Hutchsinson and FIS have agreed to continue through 2018. 

About 300 people attended the demo day to hear pitches from and see demonstrations by the 10 startups chosen to participate. The governor was the keynote speaker; and FIS CEO Gary Norcross also addressed the crowd.

LumoXchange, a low-cost remittance marketplace that will allow customers to compare exchange rates in countries across the world and send money online using local foreign exchange rates, is looking for a permanent location in Little Rock. 

Monotto offers a personal finance solution that automates the process of saving and investing and is designed for college students and millennials. 

Shelly Loftin, chief marketing officer for Bear State, said LumoXchange is "revolutionizing" how people send money to their loved ones in other countries. It offers, through a smartphone app and website, an alternative to using large companies, such as Western Union. 

The bank will help LumoXchange on the "back end," and the two will work together to build the network the startup needs, she said. 

"All of the promotion and branding will be for LumoXchange because it's their vision and their company; we're just helping them with the infrastructure because we believe it's a really good cause and it's a really good business model," she said.

"It's not a monetary investment," she added. "It's an investment of people and back-end resources of a financial institution, so to speak."

Loftin said Monotto had developed an app that helps people save "automatically" and "seemingly in the background." The startup's original idea was to sell it directly to consumers, but Bear State helped convince the company to brand their platform for financial institutions and integrate it into those institutions' existing online and mobile software suites.

Loftin described Bear State as Monotto's "beta bank." The two will work together to figure out what the platform should look like, what the app should look like, what functionality it should have and needs and to work it into the set of products Bear State offers to customers.

LumoXchange and Bear State will be spending money on this project, but she said she couldn't disclose an amount of investment because neither knows how much will be needed yet.

Loftin said that Bear State would be contributing its expertise in marketing and financial literacy education, to the partnership as both spend money to build the technology. 

She added that Bear State was talking with about half of the accelerator teams about partnership and hopes to make some announcement related to those discussions by the end of the year. 

Arkansas Business will update this story.