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Introducing Visa Innovation Program Inaugural Cohort

The Visa Innovation Program, the collaborative platform for fintech startups’ engagement of Visa and Eleven Ventures in Bulgaria, welcomes its first cohort of companies that will drive future payment innovations. During the application window in May and June 2019, the Program attracted a significant number of applications with companies varying in their team size, level of funding, revenue and sales pipeline. More than 50 growth-stage startups interested in transforming the legacy banking business, shaping the future of retail and powering the cross-border economy, applied to join the Visa Innovation Program’s first season.

Since the announcement of the application window, our team met tens of inspiring entrepreneurs and their bold ideas. We got to discuss the business case of many fintechs and explore their solutions. What we also focused on were some strategic inputs beyond the technology, such as the teams’ spirit and the entrepreneurial mindset, plus their current business performance as additional validation and a proof for their stamina. 

Eleven shortlisted companies with great solutions were invited to pitch at the Visa Innovation Program Selection Day, June 28th.

Here they are in alphabetical order – A4EAccess FinanceAutoeconomCashwaveFamily FinanceLimeChainLogsentinelNotolytixPayhawkReloyalty and Smartloop. The Selection Day was a full day event, happening at Campus X – Eleven’s home and the leading hub for tech companies and talent in SEE.

Before the official pitching session, all startups took advantage of one-on-one meetings with bank experts, leading the innovation efforts in Raiffeisenbank, Fibank, DSK bank, Postbank and UBB.

Stefan Ivanov, Head of Finance Division, Raiffeisenbank (left) with Hristo Hadjichonev, CEO of A4E

This ‘speed dating’ was very well accepted from both sides and highly appreciated for the value it brings for the whole ecosystem. 

The Innovation team of UBB with Melinda from Family Finance (in the middle)

Banks and startups got to know each other better, talking honestly for challenges and opportunities, sharing insights and experiences, aiming at mutual growth, support and synergistic partnership – this is what the fintech ecosystem needs in order to thrive.

DSK’s Digital Transformation lead Vassil Dimitrov (left) with Payhawk’s team

All startups did a great job presenting their solutions to the Selection Jury, comprising of Visa and Eleven senior team members and banks representatives. Lots of questions coming from the jury and the audience…

The Selection Jury of Visa and Eleven’s teams and bank executives


A4Everyone is helping small businesses and enterprises to utilize better their existing data by automating their processes in areas of decision making, demand and sales forecasting, risk management and credit scoring, product portfolio mix optimization, market basket analysis, geo-targeting and more.

The primary target of A4E is the banking and non-bank financial sector focused on consumer loans, credit cards, etc. with scoring-as-a-service, helping them to automatically evaluate the creditworthiness of their potential clients. 

Cashwave is a reseller and distributor of corporate gift cards, e-codes and gift vouchers into the B2B and employee rewards market. The company allows cross-border electronic transfer of money without the need for physical cash or a bank account.

It is a cloud-based platform managing incentive and rewards programs for sales channel management, clinical trials and employee rewards/bonuses using e-money, virtual prepaid cards and eVouchers as payout channels.

NOTO is a data agnostic risk and regtech solution, aimed at the payments space, that offers flexibility and scalability.

The product offers a single solution for all AML, Risk and Fraud transaction monitoring needs and can help with use cases like customer onboarding, loyalty abuse, internal fraud, payments routing and other business processes that require decision making in real time.

LogSentinel ensures data protection and privacy by per-record database encryption and secure audit trail, protected by blockchain technology.

LogSentinel helps organizations to: demonstrate compliance with regulations, protect personal data, prove the origin of products, optimize business processes using advanced AI and log analysis, historical data and advanced algorithms for performance management.

What's Next?

The first cohort will join a three-month program, tailored towards their particular needs and challenges, anchoring Visa’s Design Thinking Methodology customized by Eleven’s Design Thinking Lab – Creative Shower. Visa Innovation Program is a helping hand on the road to enhancing further their product proposition, scaling the business and improving the existing operations with the desired outcome to reach proof-of-concept with a stakeholder within Visa’s network and enter new markets. The companies will be introduced to Visa experts, senior banking professionals; they will be given access to resources including APIs from Visa Developer Platform and in-person advisory sessions. 

Follow our blog 11 Series and check out regularly our column Corporates love Startups in Trending Topics to stay up to date with the Visa Innovation Program. 

Sevdalina Vassileva, Executive Director of Fibank and a member of the Selection Jury
Ivo Vassilev , CEO, Reloyalty
The team of LimeChain
Ivan Stefanov, Co-Founder of Noto
Visa’s team with Access Finance
Campus X, Conference Center
Rene Tomova, Head of Eleven’s Design Thinking lab Creative Shower

Apply now!

Apply here If you wish to enter the Program that is locally operated by Eleven Ventures in Bulgaria, Crowdpolicy in Greece or Hackquarters in Turkey.

We welcome fintechs from all over Europe!