As banks increasingly take transactions to digital channels, the process to acquire customers also is shifting online thanks to technology that matches product offers to customers based on data. Indeed, Even Financial, a four-year-old startup, has built just such an API to help banks find customers.
This week, the New York-based company confirmed a $25 million strategic investment led by Citi Ventures. The round was co-led by MassMutual Ventures, with additional participation from LendingClub. Existing investors, including American Express Ventures, Canaan Partners, F-Prime Capital, GreatPoint Ventures and Goldman Sachs, also participated. The funding will help Even bolster its automated customer acquisition platform and add more channel partners, according to Phill Rosen, Even Financial’s CEO.
Even’s backing from major bank brands is evidence of a shift in how banks approach customer acquisition, specifically how to personalize offers to customers based what an institution knows about a customer’s financial profile and other information it can acquire based on their online activities. Customers browsing one of Even’s partner sites or apps get served up tailored product offers because Even is directly plugged into the underwriting and decision-making systems of institutions, along with their account onboarding systems. Instead of being taken to a marketing site, customers that are matched with product offers are sent directly to the digital product onboarding processes, a trajectory which helps institutions add customers more quickly than traditional marketing methods, said Rosen. So far, its financial institution client base includes Marcus by Goldman Sachs, SoFi, American Express, the LendingClub and Barclays.
“Historically, banks wanted to be monolithic entities that would engage within their own [physical and digital] experiences,” Rosen said. “[Even] is integrated into underwriting and quote systems from financial services [companies].” Using a large quantity of metadata and historical data about customers, Even is able to use anonymized data to generate “best fit” product matches for customers, he added.
Product offerings that are covered by Even’s technology include loans, savings accounts and credit cards. With its programmatic approach to customer acquisition based on data, Even needs to ensure customers have given consent to having their financial data shared — a rationale for an explicit “opt-in” approach, unlike ad tech platforms, explained Rosen. Even’s 180 partners include personal finance apps Clarity Money (which is owned by Goldman Sachs), Trim, Hiatus, Empower Finance, TransUnion’s consumer marketplace and content platform Penny Hoarder.
From an investor’s perspective, an investment in Even is a bet on the future of customer acquisition as banks seek to grow their return on investment from marketing dollars. “When you look at Even, [its evidence of banks] trying to go digital and take advantage of digital distribution,” said Charles Svirk, senior associate at MassMutual Ventures. “Customer experience is really important, so having a native API that’s programmatic like Even’s is really important for financial institutions to bid on, [including] the demographic profiles of these consumers in real time.”