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Wells Fargo's New Startup Accelerator Backs Promising Financial Services Technologies

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 8/25/2014

New six-month accelerator program helps entrepreneurs focused on payments, deposits, fraud, operations and other financial services technology with direct equity investments, business planning support.

Banking giant Wells Fargo is now accepting applications for its new startup accelerator that provides venture capital funds to up-and-coming startups with banking, analytics, big data, mobile, security and infrastructure products and services. The semiannual program lasts six months and provides 10 to 20 qualified startups with a direct equity investment of $50,000 to $500,000 each from Wells Fargo, along with business planning and strategy support from bank executives.

Wells Fargo Accelerator

Wells Fargo, which announced the new program in a press release on Wednesday, Aug. 20, says the accelerator aims to "shape future customer experiences in financial services" and "continuously attract innovative ideas and stroke innovation across the Wells Fargo enterprise."

The most successful startups that graduate the program will also have the opportunity to pitch their services to the bank and develop long-term vendor relationships with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo is currently piloting the program with three beta participants, including EyeVerify, Kasisto and Zumingo. In an interview with VentureBeat, EyeVerify explained the company is revolutionizing the passwords process by transforming a picture of your eye into a universal digital password. Kasisto provides voice-recognition technology for smartphones geared towards the financial services and commerce industries, while Zumingo uses device location technology to authenticate commerce and banking transactions.

Although several other banks have launched startup investment programs in the past, including Bank of Ireland, Barclays and Silicon Valley Bank, Wells Fargo's program does not incorporate a traditional demo day and only focuses on startups whose technology will redefine or complement the banking experience in new and innovative ways.

Steve Ellis, Wells Fargo executive vice president and head of Wholesale Services, said in a press release, "The startup accelerator adds a new cylinder to our corporate innovation engine. We're taking a proven business model from the venture capital community and repurposing it as a strategy for connecting with startups whose ideas and growth prospects could add value to our business and our customers."

Applications for the program are accepted twice a year. The deadline for applications for this year's program is Oct. 1, and application forms can be found on the Wells Fargo website.

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