Smita Aggarwal
Director, Investments
Ken Miller
Venture Partner

Why We Invested: ZineOne

March 20, 2018

If you live in a developed market like the US or the UK, you own a smartphone, maybe a smartwatch. Let’s say you are shopping for auto insurance. You probably do some research online using your computer, then on your commute to work, you use your phone to look up company reviews or ask family members and friends for a recommendation via Facebook or Twitter. You might even call or chat online with a sales associate to clarify a question or two before making a decision. In emerging markets like India, the tools might change — you might have a basic phone, communicate via text or Whatsapp, and get advice from your banking agent. The point is, today, a consumer might interact with a company across several different platforms and channels — and the company may have no idea. Chances are that each time, they will treat you like it’s the first time you’re inquiring about your need.

The complexity of these digital channels is why consumers often don’t get what they need, are overcharged, or over-marketed to. Specifically in digital financial services, there are still gaping holes in how customer experiences are delivered. Even though we all leave behind a vast digital trail, many companies do a poor job of recognizing and aggregating the various interactions their customers are having with them. And even among those that do pull together the digital trail, most companies only analyze that data once the interaction is over. This may allow them to generate insights that can help improve processes and services in the long run, but they may miss the opportunity of catching consumers while they’re on their decision-making journey.

To make things more complicated, our fast-evolving world means companies receive massive streams of structured and unstructured data from several channels: from email to social media; offline to mobile; advertising platforms, partner APIs, and multiple CRM tools. Almost every company’s system struggles with the gap between when those events occur, when they’re analyzed, and when the company can respond.

That’s why we invested in ZineOne, a next generation customer engagement hub that provides banks and retailers with the ability to engage with their customers in real time, in a highly contextual and personalized manner. ZineOne has built a platform that aggregates all these disparate data streams, uses machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence frameworks to analyze the information, and makes optimized suggestions for how companies might respond to these customer interactions in real time.

Retailers could use this platform to offer customer reminders to use their reward points at the moment they are interacting with the brand online or in physical stores. Financial institutions can engage with customers during their decision-making journey and nudge them toward healthier financial habits, such as increasing savings, and offer improved services, including customized loans based on customer’s previous banking behavior. HDFC Bank, India’s largest private bank, is already leveraging ZineOne’s platform across all of its digital channels and experiencing significant gains in customer engagement — including three times the clickthrough rate on offers and services when compared with traditional methods. All in real time and personalized to each person’s unique needs.

At Omidyar Network, we believe that the re-bundling of financial services through new technologies coupled with human-centered design and behavioral science, can level-up people’s relationships with their finances. Providers can offer consumers a more personalized, intelligent, and easier way to manage their money — at far lower costs than ever before. Because these services are often delivered via a smartphone, we call this approach a “Pocket Einstein” for personal finance.

As we move toward an immediate, high-touch, digital world, financial services are rapidly transforming into hyper-personalized, convenient, and affordable tools that help people gain more knowledge and control over their finances and deliver the products and services they need at the exact moment they truly need them. Through ZineOne’s technology, we see a strong foundation for improving and delivering “Pocket Einstein” experiences in both developed and emerging markets.

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