Fintech Portabl app raises $2.5M to help consumers securely store financial data • TechCrunch

Fintech Portabl today announced the closing of a $2.5 million funding round led by Harlem Capital Partners. Portable, founded by Nate Soffio and Alex Yenkalovalso launching its beta version today for institutional use.

It provides identity management and protection for financial services, banking and consumer applications, but Soffio calls it a financial digital passport, which helps in user identification, making it less burdensome for users. consumers and financial services. He said the company’s goal is to wean people off passwords, helping consumers take greater ownership of their business data by allowing them to control who can access it.

The app works like this: Portabl stores information used to access existing financial apps. Whenever an application is opened, a Portabl login will appear and with two clicks simply allow users to log in.

“We recognize that if you’re a consumer, having a say in who has access to your identity and financial life has always been confusing and tedious — at worst, adversarial and exclusive,” Soffio told TechCrunch. “We believe that enabling consumers to own their data, keep it safe, and share it to access or update it is the right way to deliver on many of the promises you hear about in open banking.”

Yenkalov noted the emergence of decentralized IDs, verifiable credentials and zero-knowledge proofs, saying the industry is closer than ever to enabling financial organizations to benefit from consumers owning and sharing. their own data.

“In a way, by giving users responsibility for their authentic data, Portabl turns it into secure APIs of their own,” he told TechCrunch. “This has enormous potential to transform consumer-provider interactions in the financial world.”

Calling the fundraising trip “this kind of weird hopscotch situation,” Soffio said he started building the app early last year while attending the Wharton School of Business. In his spare time, he pitches competitions and accelerators. Eventually he met Yenkalov, who helped him continue to shape the application hypothesis. Through a series of warm introductions, the duo managed to raise money and meet investors.

Soffio said Portabl chose Harlem Capital to lead the round after a call he will never forget: Yenkalov, a Ukrainian citizen, was trapped in the country as war with Russia broke out amid a fundraising call with the company. Soffio recalls the air raid sirens going off and said that for the first few minutes of the call, the conversation was not about business, but rather about finding a way to support Yenkalov’s escape from the country.

“It’s a venture capital firm, and their mission is to make great investments,” Soffio said. “They put all that aside and said, ‘Hey, this is an ongoing global crisis – what else can we do for you? For me, it was something I would remember forever, frankly.

Partner of Harlem Capital Brandon Bryant said what initially attracted the fund to Portabl was the idea that identity verification in fintech was still unresolved. “Their platform allows you, as a consumer, to create your own identity credentials once and bring them with you to every fintech app,” Bryant told TechCrunch. “We think this will be a big breakthrough for the industry.”

Carl Vogel, a Sixth Man Ventures partner who also invested in the Portabl round, expressed similar sentiments. He said the app “realized that creating user-owned financial identities can create tremendous value not only for users, but can also create meaningful product and operational improvements for financial institutions.”

“What also excited us is that Portabl’s solution covers both traditional financial institutions and web3 native businesses looking to securely onboard and maintain users,” Vogel continued. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Portabl on their journey.”

Soffio said the company plans to use the money to help expand the team and accelerate its growth. It is also working on its SOC2 and ISO/IEC 27001 security certifications (the former is a voluntary standard for consumer data management while the latter is an international rubric for information management) and is leaning into blockchain to offer consumers ‘bulletproof records’ of their data. ”

As a child, Soffio learned the importance of verifiable identity information. He was born in Colombia and adopted by a Polish mother and Puerto Rican father, who raised him in Stamford, Connecticut. He describes his neighborhood as mostly made up of immigrants and said there was always an underlying fear and anxiety about having proper documentation.

“I grew up witnessing various types of financial exclusion due to poverty, immigration, cash addiction and a lot of anxiety around documenting and establishing relationships with physical banks,” Soffio said. “These are the things that keep otherwise good people from using basic services.”

He studied anthropology during his undergraduate years at Yale and always planned to attend law school. His first job out of college was as a legal assistant, where he was tasked with creating databases, nurturing his love for information gathering. He then spent a decade working for various software and fintech startups, holding roles focused on product management fraud and anti-money laundering.

He quickly realized the link between data management, identity issues and access to essential financial services. From there, he dropped everything, abandoned his law school plans and embarked on the journey of learning identity, naturally leading him to Wharton.

“Historically, many people have been excluded from the system not because they are bad, but because they are difficult to understand,” he said. “We want that to be a thing of the past by standardizing how traditional and alternative data can be owned, shared and approved.”

This article has been updated to clarify what the Portabl app does.

Lance B. Holton