Steven McKean, Co-founder and CEO at ApexEdge joins us in this Friday chat to
share a few top predictions on the state of FinTech today while throwing light on the
importance of FIs turning to FinTech start-ups for innovative solutions to customer facing
Hi Steven, welcome to V3 Media!! Tell us a little about the ApexEdge platform…and
the idea behind it…we’d love to hear its growth story…
We officially launched the ApexEdge platform in 2020 to empower banks and credit
unions to become true advocates for their customers and members by going beyond
offering money saving recommendations to actually generating savings on their behalf.
The platform uses actionable intelligence to identify and pursue savings opportunities
through the negotiation and cancellation of monthly service bills and subscriptions
offered through either a referral or wholesale model. With over 80% of U.S. consumers
overpay on monthly bills, consumers have an opportunity to realize significant savings
by renegotiating routine services bills or cancelling recurring subscription fees, but the
challenge is in navigating biller contacts, processes, and pricing plus creating the time to
Recognizing a gap in the market, we developed a secure, SOC II-certified, modular
platform to help financial institutions provide this value-added service, as well as
ongoing personal financial management (PFM) tool support, to their customers.
The platform is built on a server-less architecture to allow a quick, seamless and easy
launch for financial institutions, FinTech, PFMs and more via APIs, which gives
organizations the flexibility to choose how to deploy the service to customers and
members: either a direct referral to ApexEdge’s Billshark service, or as a co-branded or
even white-label service hosted through the bank to further strengthen the
institution/customer relationship and provide cost reduction and the generation of
additional non-interest revenue.
To meet the need in the market, the platform provides four key services:
Negotiate: Negotiation of lower monthly services bill rates without
compromising the current level of service or changing the provider;
Cancel: Cancellation of those unused or unwanted auto-renewing
subscriptions and memberships;
Enhance: Negotiation of credits or refunds when service outages inevitably
occur, overages are billed or services go unused; and
Protect: Demand erasure of customer’s personal information and data
footprints retained by providers.
In today’s consumer banking environment, financial institutions find themselves under
increasing pressure – from large competitors to emerging FinTechs – to remain relevant
to their customers and protect their position as primary partners in their financial well-
With this in mind, we designed our platform with banks’ business needs in mind. Banks
benefit from access to truly actionable data insights and the flexibility that our secure,
modular design and use of APIs enables. Through the ApexEdge platform, bankers are
strengthening their relationships with customers in a meaningful way that delivers
tangible value to institutions and consumers alike.
What according to you are the challenges that today’s consumers face when they
think about optimizing their billing and subscription management? How can financial
institutions help in achieving this?
From a consumer standpoint, the easy-to-see challenges are time, stress and
annoyance, right? Everyone wants to save money, but who has the time to look through
their bills and subscriptions line by line to see where they are spending their money and
where they can save money. And that is just the start, then, they would have to call the
company to renegotiate their service costs or go online to cancel their subscriptions. No
one has the time to do that and quite frankly, no one wants to do that.
However, that’s where financial institutions can step in and fill the gap – through
partnerships that offer innovative solutions that can help consumers save money, cancel
unwanted subscriptions, lower their monthly services and bills and monitor outages and
fees. Financial institutions can use the information and attention from their customers
that they already have access to and can combine that information with subscription
management or bill reduction solutions to make managing bills and costs a seamless,
How do you see the impact of optimized billing processes in overall business
operations and even revenue: can you give some examples for the industry to learn
By optimizing these experiences for your financial institution’s customers, banks and
credit unions can reap the benefits as well. Financial institutions need a way to stand out
and create more reasons for their customers to stick around, especially as younger
generations are more likely to work with alternative players in the finance space, like
FinTech and virtual institutions.
Institutions need solutions that entice their members and ultimately bring in additional
business, create more brand loyalty while also driving in non-interest income and
increasing revenue streams. But, winning over various generations can be hard. For
example, Forbes explained that Venmo adoption beats Zelle adoption when it comes to
Millennials and Gen Zers; however, “among smartphone-toting Baby Boomers, two-
thirds use more than one service, typically PayPal and their bank’s service.”
Of course, financial institutions would rather have all of their customers or members
leveraging their digital platforms to perform all of their financial needs, like bill pay or
mobile payment transactions. This is where financial institutions need to embrace
strategic partnerships that can help them win over their customers – strengthening
relationships, improving the overall user experience and significantly
reducing consumers’ financial stress.
Institutions are in a unique position to bridge this gap by forming strategic partnerships
with technology providers that offer quick-to-market, cost effective solutions. This not
only helps consumers improve their financial wellness, but also allows the institution to
target their entire customer/member base (including younger customers and members),
converting customers and members into using other/more banking services.
Just look at Varo Bank – the bank has more than seven FinTech collaborations that they
are utilizing to add value to their relationships and save their customers money, which
can in turn, be routed back into other services that the bank offers, such as savings
accounts or investment opportunities.
In fact, American Banker described the bank’s relationship with ApexEdge as a “natural-
fit” and stated that the benefits of its “latest partnership with ApexEdge, a Boston
company that offers bill and subscription management solutions as either a co-branded
or referral service and is better known for its consumer-facing site, Billshark. The
negotiation “sharks” will contact internet service providers, telecommunications firms and
more to haggle for savings on a consumer’s behalf.”
How do you think should the B2B companies strengthen value-added services, given
today’s market changes and evolving consumer needs?
Financial institutions today need to provide immediate value to customers in order to
strengthen the customer relationship, which can prove challenging in today’s digital
environment. Since most consumers want to improve their financial wellness journey, it
is important that banks, credit unions, PFMs, FinTech and more offer the solutions
necessary to transform institutions from just another advisor to a trusted customer
advocate. Such solutions help institutions establish and strengthen the critical customer
relationship through digital channels, providing companies with tools to offer immediate
value to customers and in turn fostering customer relationships even further.
What are your opinions on some of the most innovative (global) B2B finance
solutions you came across in the market that are indeed changing the game for
users in this space?
Having worked in the industry for more than 20 years, I admire continued innovation in
the financial services space. Whether it’s a new app on the market or an API that easily
integrates with an institution’s platform to help streamline its processes or enhance its
customer experience, innovative solutions are paving the path to the future of the
A few industry partners and solutions that I personally find game-changing have
- Stripe – because of how the platform integrates artificial intelligence (AI) into
their core product offering.
- Albert – because of how they take a different approach, blending human
and machine automation into a unified customer experience.
- Visa – because of the company’s recent product announcements around
embedding blockchain into their platform.
As an innovator in the space, I’m excited to see these companies changing the way the
financial services industry works and continue to disrupt the market in new and exciting
ways. Seeing innovation in the industry continues to inspire the ApexEdge team,
including myself, and we are excited to introduce new and exciting products and
services into the market in the future.
Global FinTech trends are changing and the market is shifting due to business
environments (and also due to Covid-19), what can you comment on the state of
FinTech in 2021?
Right now, we are in a macro-cycle – a demographic shift where millennials are entering
their prime years of family formation and transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their
children. This will accelerate the need for digital transformation to exceed expectations
of millennials and Gen Zers. Each generation will expect more from their financial
institution and each will demand greater digital service.
In fact, a recent article (on Fintech Futures!) explains that banks need to step up their
physical and digital strategies to keep up with the future generations, citing that “Gen Z
could be the first generation to ditch debit and credit cards and manage cash and credit
on their smartphone. So, how in-branch self-service machines interact with smartphones
for authenticating and accessing services, like updating digital wallets is key.”
The financial industry must meet these challenges or large mega-cap technology
companies will. And, we will see these trends around abstracting the customer
experience of companies, like Amazon and Apple, into financial services continue for the
first part of this decade.
And lastly, what are some of the biggest learnings and tips that you would like to
share as a FinTech innovator?
During my years working in the industry, I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the
way. I have learned that product and technology stack go hand and glove. They must
work together in order to be effective.
I’ve also learned that larger financial institutions need emerging companies to accelerate
innovation and experimentation. When you have a platform, product or software that fills
a gap in the market, work hard to present it to leaders in the market. Yes, it will benefit
your company, but it will also benefit even the largest of institutions if they don’t have a
solution to fill the gap in the market that your solution will fix.
Lastly, I’ve learned that you can plan on your product becoming obsolete through
competitive featurization. Make sure you always continue innovating, making strategic
decisions and staying ahead of your competition.
Thank you Steven for answering all our questions!