Bankable Frontier Associates First to Use Machine Learning to Select Fintech Investments

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The Catalyst Fund, managed by Bankable Frontier Associates, will use a machine learning-powered early stage investment platform to select inclusive fintech startups for pre-seed funding.

BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates) will employ an automated early stage investment platform to evaluate and select early stage startups for Catalyst Fund. Managed by BFA, Catalyst Fund provides pre-seed capital for the purpose of catalyzing early stage startups in digital financial inclusion and creating deeper impact on the poor. Through Machine Learning, the Fund is exploring how to complement the human side of fund management with robust data. The technology layer promises to convert the Fund’s due diligence into a highly efficient and standardized process that could identify very early on, inclusive fintech startups with a higher likelihood of successfully growing their businesses.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co, Catalyst Fund also has the guidance of impact investors Accion, Omidyar Network, Gray Ghost Ventures and Quona Capital and is fiscally sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Learn more by visiting

"This approach could help trigger more investment in markets that are poorly served by venture capital. Thanks to the increasing adoption of smartphones, large amounts of user data are becoming available, which are tremendously valuable in better understanding low-income consumers and designing more appropriate products for them," said David Del Ser, Fintech Practice Director at BFA. "We are just beginning to learn how to unleash big data in financial inclusion and recognize the implications for economic development."

The investment platform, PreSeries, is a joint venture between BigML and Telefónica Open Future, built on top of BigML’s Machine Learning platform. The predictive algorithms are capable of producing a score that investors can use to qualify startups for funding, reduce biases in the selection of startups, lower management overhead and optimize monitoring and evaluation of the investment.

The collaboration will formally be announced at the PAPIs Connect 2016 conference in Valencia, after the world’s first startup battle in which the winner will be chosen by the PreSeries algorithm alone without any human intervention -- something that has never been done before. Catalyst Fund and BigML will continue to explore ways to apply the PreSeries technology to other BFA fintech projects.

BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates) is a global consulting firm specializing in the development of financial services for low-income people around the world. Our approach is to seek out, create and implement solutions to the challenges faced by low-income people in managing the financial matters that underpin their lives. We purposefully partner with cutting-edge financial and nonfinancial institutions that touch the lives of low-income customers. In creating solutions, we integrate our deep expertise in customer insights, business strategy, new technology and growth-enabling policy & regulation. Founded in 2006, our clients include donors, investors, financial institutions, policymakers, insurers and payment service providers. BFA has offices in Boston, New York and Nairobi. For more information, please visit:

Media Contact:

Jane Del Ser    
Communications Manager                 
+34 608 375 760

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Jane Del Ser
Bankable Frontier Associates

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