Four days of Fintechs

Finovate Europe was a vibrant showcase of 69 Fintecs over two days. The Conference was done in a speed-dating format with each participant giving a seven-minute demo of what they can do. These demos run like clockwork – most of which were entertaining and punchy and included role-play, props and even a magician. The format was dynamic and kept the audience interested and informed.

The last two days consisted of general sessions with speakers and afternoon breakaway sessions covering Banking, Investing, RegTech and Future Tech.

The content was diverse and ranged from gumball machines that deduct money from your account with a tap, to predictions around The Rise of the Machines. Which ideas gain traction remains to be seen.

Among all the talk of chatbots, AI, data and distributed ledgers, there were some common themes that permeated over the four days:

  • Open Banking

    Being in London, there was plenty of talk about PSD2. Throughout these discussions, many touted the benefits of consumer data-sharing through the use of APIs. It allows third parties to leverage data that ultimately offers the best user experience and provides more options for customers.

  • RegTech

    With the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) deadline approaching, data protection was on the minds of many banks and Fintechs. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) was also a hot topic, but there was very little evidence of working AI solutions to improve fraudulent activities. Banks have realised that there is no competitive reason to solve these problems individually, so European banks and the Australian Commonwealth Bank have started working together to jointly solve some of the AML issues.

  • Personalised Marketing

    Using consumer data and AI to personalise marketing efforts and client experience. Fintecs are tailoring the user experience based on customer information and their specific needs.

  • Banking in natural language

    In the retail space, the trend for banking services was having chatbots behind banking interactions with transactions done through whats-app and/or facebook or similar interfaces, all in natural language.

  • Robo Advisory/Automation for wealth management

    Financial advisers have some serious competition. Robo advisers for investment portfolios and asset allocation, using large sets of consumer data, were big themes at the Conference. On the human side, financial advisers also benefit by gaining the ability to better manage more portfolios at scale.

  • Identity verification using biometricsKYC onboarding and identity confirmation using biometrics. Around 10 different Fintecs showed variations on the same theme.
  • Blockchain TechnologyGeneral consensus was, not if, but when blockchain technology becomes mainstream. Most banks are testing the technology, although there are very few end-to-end working solutions. Blockchain was also used by Fintecs for optimising, automating and monitoring business processes, providing liquidity for new asset classes and for security and fraud detection.
  • Banks are partnering more than ever

    Big business is partnering and investing in Fintechs more than ever before. A few of the demos were done in conjunction with their partner banks. Also, flipping through the finovate info booklet, you could see that many of the tech companies already have key bank clients. This is a big shift from where we were a few years ago.

Parting thoughts

“Banks need to ask themselves whether they are flexible and sensitive enough to adapt to the rapidly changing context.” – Harrie Vollaard, Rabobank

“A tool that nobody got fired for isn’t necessarily the beginning of a great innovation story.” – Simon Taylor

by Lucy Brickhill



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