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Clinc, a fledgling fintech startup that enables banks to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to their products, has raised a $6.3 million funding round led by Drive Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Venture Partners, Cahoots Holding, and Stuart Porter.

Founded out of Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2015, Clinc is the brainchild of Jason Mars (CEO) and Lingjia Tang (CTO), both AI and systems research professors from the University of Michigan. Back in September, Clinc unveiled its first product, called Finie — a portmanteau derived from “finance” and “genie” — which the company touts as “the world’s most advanced voice-controlled AI platform for banking.”

Clinc: Finie in action

Above: Clinc: Finie in action

The platform is basically pitched at banks and other financial bodies that can integrate Finie’s smarts into their own mobile applications. And why would banks want to do that? Well, Finie gives financial institutions instant off-the-shelf access to some pretty gnarly tools, including a voice-activated intelligent assistant that can answer questions specific to an individual’s circumstances.

Using natural-language queries, a user could ask “Where can I withdraw cash before dinner tonight?” and Finie would respond with a bunch of ATMs plotted on a map. Or things could get a little more complex, with Finie tackling financial advice questions such as “Can I spend $2,500 on a trip to San Francisco?” In effect, Finie lets users converse with their bank account.

Before now, Clinc had raised $1.45 million in funding, and this latest cash influx will allow the company to “invest in continued product innovation, to further accelerate the company’s rapid revenue growth, and to expand the Clinc team,” according to a company statement.

“We’ve had overwhelming interest in Finie from financial institutions covering a wide variety of financial functions,” said Mars. “The opportunities are truly endless. With this additional capital, our AI will become even more capable. We’re going to eliminate the complexity and barriers that consumers typically face when understanding their finances, and we’re going to help more consumers connect with their financial data in personalized, impactful ways with minimal effort.”

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating just about every facet of society, and banking is no different. Earlier this year, Kasisto, which spun out from Siri-creator SRI International, raised $9.2 million for its personalized finance bot platform — the Royal Bank of Canada, Development Bank of Singapore, and Digibank are already using Kasisto’s AI-powered smarts. And last year, Bank of America launched an AI-powered bot to help customers with their personal finances. Other notable fintech brands tinkering with AI include American Express and P2P forex service TransferWise, which just yesterday launched a new Facebook Messenger bot.

However, Clinc doesn’t want to be the customer-facing brand — it’s aiming to be the brain behind such services.

It’s also worth noting here that there is another AI-focused fintech startup called Clinc, based in Germany, and it is reportedly launching internationally (including in the U.S.) sometime this year. So things could get a little confusing unless one of the companies elects to change its name.


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