Monotto is looking in the next two years to gain its first international client. With a little more luck, the fintech startup could have met that goal more than a year ago.
Monotto provides white-labeled software that allows banks to offer their customers an automated savings function, but not simply by rounding up to the nearest dollar, as many other companies have done.
The Atlanta-based company, now operating out of the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech, uses artificial intelligence to analyze transaction histories and set aside a couple bucks here and there based on recent and projected spending.
The company only needs a few months of financial history to build a profile that can be refined over time, allowing the customer to save toward a house, car or any other goal — without thinking about it.
“Our (software) just adjusts with your daily life. If you’re spending more, because you have expenses come up, then we’re not saving as much,” says Jared Kopelman, COO and co-founder. “It makes you financially stable without shoving it down your throat. It’s passive financial literacy.”
Banks and credit unions, meanwhile, are armed with more knowledge of their customers’ goals and can use that information to tailor their marketing efforts and build deeper relationships.
“It gives banks the data behind what they’re saving for and when they’re going to reach their goals, so then they can cross-sell their products,” said Mr. Kopelman, who started the company with CEO Christian Ruppe while at College of Charleston, then moved it to Atlanta after participating in an FIS accelerator in Little Rock, Ark.
So far, the company has focused mainly on the U.S, but it had a brief foray into Europe in 2017, funded in part by a $5,000 Atlanta Metro Export Challenge grant.
A bank based (located in a country that the company would rather not name) approached Monotto about a substantial contract, and the company went so far as to hire a lawyer to craft the deal in the local language.
At the time, though, European banks were skittish about deals involving data storage. The deadline for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was coming up, promising steep penalties for companies who didn’t handle EU citizens’ data in line with the new rules. How authorities would implement them, however, remained a mystery.
The contract fizzled, even after Monotto used the grant money to travel to Amsterdam to meet with multiple potential clients at the Money 20/20 Europe conference.
Since then, the company has focused more heavily on the local and community banks and credit unions in the U.S. who need to upgrade their enhanced technology to keep up with bigger competitors.
But the brief global sales journey provided a silver lining: Now, the company is GDPR-compliant and more prepared to deal with similar changes to U.S. privacy regulations that some experts believe could be rolled out nationwide in the next few years.
And now, Monotto’s erstwhile European customer has restarted conversations, and the company remains open to other global deals even as it plans to double its customer base in the U.S. and hire new developers and a few new salespeople over the next two years, Mr. Kopelman said.
“We’re very open to deploying our software to wherever we can in the world. We’re not constrained by geographically boundaries in any way shape or form.”