PayKey Wins Demo Contest at Bank Innovation Israel

  • JJ Hornblass
  • November 4, 2016
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paykey-fw_TEL AVIV — PayKey, an intriguing Israeli startup that lets banks offer payments on any social media platform — and we mean any — won the demo contest at Bank Innovation Israel 2016 here this week.

PayKey beat out 12 other finalists at the DEMOvation Challenge at Bank Innovation Israel, which is presented by this blog. The runner-up was Verifyoo, which provides a non-intrusive, revocable, active behavioral based solution, used as a replacement for other login methods. Revocability, of course, is something TouchID and many biometric solutions cannot offer.

PayKey addresses a unique challenge: allowing banks to offer payments services within popular social media platforms, like WhatsApp or Instagram, without forcing the FI to work through (read: compensate) those platforms.

PayKey’s solution is ingenious: It relies on the mobile phone’s keyboard to facilitate the payments.

Anyone who has added one of those bundles of emojis knows that adding a keyboard is no big deal. But PayKey realized that adding keyboards is not just about being able to ? ? ? ? ⛱ a message. It could also add functionality.

The functionality PayKey adds is a payment button, and that button can be branded to any FI. Think of, say, a little Chase symbol on your mobile’s keyboard that when you touch it, you initiate a payment to the person with whom you are Whatsapp-ing.

One of the judges at Bank Innovation Israel called it “really slick.” They also praised PayKey’s presentation skills.

The much-lauded PayKey won cash prizes from Bank Leumi, the host partner of Bank Innovation Israel, and Bank Innovation, as well as bragging rights.

PayKey was founded in 2014 and has raised $400,000 of funding to date, according to Crunchbase.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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