ANZ Bank backs digital financial assistant Aider to support SMEs’ data-led decision making


ANZ Bank’s venture capital arm, ANZi Ventures, has taken a NZ$4 million equity stake in Auckland-based fintech Aider, which provides SME customers conversational digital assistance and real-time data insights, including cashflow tracking, into their businesses.

Beyond cashflow, Aider also provides analytics tools covering businesses’ core accounting, staffing, sales, and marketing functions, aggregating and assessing data from a suite of popular business applications, including Xero, hospoIQ, Shopify, Vend, and Google Analytics via its proprietary artificial intelligence engine.

Through Aider’s AI-backed mobile chat interface, users can make voice or text queries to glean real-time insights into these metrics – for example, asking ‘What are my operating expenses? or ‘What are my top-selling products this month?’, with answers provided immediately.

Aider’s AI assistant also offers predictive insights on and live-tracking of business metrics – for instance, pushing alerts whenever a pattern or anomaly is detected within a core business process – as well as allowing users to schedule, automate, and action business tasks.

ANZi now holds a 40.96 per cent stake in Aider. Meanwhile, ANZi’s managing director Ron Spector has been appointed as a director of Aider, records from New Zealand Companies Office have revealed.

Spector said Aider’s instant insights and accounting software integrations will help business owners make data-led decisions faster, improving their efficiency and bottom lines.

It is hoped ANZ Bank’s buy-in will support the development of Aider’s two early-stage product developments: the Aider App, which gives real-time insights into cashflow while also integrating weather and news data; and the Advisory Intelligence Portal, currently in beta, which provides key financial data to bookkeepers and accountants.

“This investment aligns with our focus on building relationships with emerging growth companies that can support our customers,” Spector said.

ANZi Ventures is one of the three arms within ANZ’s innovation and investments team, ANZi. Ventures is tasked with making early-stage and growth investments in start-ups worldwide that are “strategically aligned” to the bank.

The New Business Lab (NBL) which explores, validates, and launches new companies in line with the bank’s strategic priorities, and Partnerships, which facilitates collaboration opportunities for ANZi portfolio companies are the two other arms.

ANZi was stood up late last year with a dual mandate of incubating innovative business models and identifying revenue streams in areas outside traditional banking.

Startups backed by ANZi span four key areas: homeownership, trade and capital flows, small and medium businesses, and open data.

To date, those startups include Airwallex, Bud, Cashrewards, Data Republic, DiviPay, Lendi, Slyp, Valiant Finance, and now Aider.

While ANZ will initially refer customers to Aider, Spector aspires for the newly partnered fintech, as well as ANZi’s eight other startups, to eventually be integrated into the bank’s own business and operations –provided their business models align.

ANZ Bank’s SME data push comes hot on the heels of fellow big four NAB’s partnership with UK fintech Pollinate – a cloud-based analytics platform designed for small businesses. Pollinate has already established a partnership with the UK banking giant NatWest.

ANZ and NAB are not the only local lenders doubling down on data services. CBA, through its X15 Ventures arm, in February this year launched its own business insights aggregation tool for SMEs known as Vonto.

While Vonto was built in-house, the Commonwealth Bank, like ANZ, has taken a similarly holistic approach to nurturing fintechs, with the respective banks’ senior executives throwing their full weight behind finding technology use cases that serve to augment mobile banking.

Westpac, on the other hand, has backed a slew of data-focused start-ups through its VC arm, Reinventure Group, including Basiq, Data Republic, Flybits, Hyper Anna, Kepler Analytics, and Zest.

Across the Tasman, Westpac NZ in May last year announced a strategic partnership with Aider, established to similarly equip SME customers with AI services, initially through a free three-month trial.