Paul Gordon, Senior Manager, Payments, Canadian Credit Union Association
Anyone involved in the financial services industry is acutely aware of the impact that fintech has had on their business in the last couple of years. What you may not realize is that fintech has been around for more than a decade and got its humble beginnings, like many other key technology movements, in Silicon Valley.
The Finovate conference, widely considered the grand daddy of fintech conferences, started way back in 2007 and held its first event in a basement meeting room in San Francisco with about 70 attendees. Fast forward 11 years and the conference is now a global phenomenon with events in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and new for 2018, Africa. I recently attended Finovate Spring which was held in Santa Clara, California and for me and the other 1,300 attendees it was an opportunity to see where fintech is heading. It’s interesting that the event itself is an example of innovation because what makes Finovate different from other conferences I typically attend is the format; two days of 7 minutes demo by approximately 50+ unique fintech innovators.
This year the conference was extended by an additional two days to accommodate a more traditional style of conference including keynotes, panel discussion and break out sessions. The organizers decided to make this change based on participant feedback from previous events but to be honest I think it dilutes the overall experience instead of adding to it. I’m hoping next year that they offer a demo only registration option for those that don’t want to commit to the full 4 days.
Regardless, there were two exciting days of demos to take in and an opportunity to talk with other attendees and the demonstrators themselves. What I always find interesting about attending Finovate is the changing themes from year to year. As one might expect, this year Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Data Analytics were front and centre coupled with a strong focus on Financial Wellness, Lending and Digital Authentication. This year’s Best in Show winners were announced recently and the diversity of the solutions is a testament to the range of that products and services that take the stage at a Finovate event:
Conversation.one provides a build-once-deploy-anywhere platform for conversational applications that enables financial institutions to build, deploy, and enhance their Alexa Skills, Google Home Actions, Facebook Messenger bots, and chatbots in one single process, in just a few minutes.
Dynamics, Inc. has re-imagined the payment card by developing a network-approved multi-function “connected” card with a 65k pixel display, organic recharging and built-in telecommunications chip to facilitate wireless data downloads and customer notifications directly to the card.
Kasasa (this was one of my personal favourites) has created a consumer centric lending product that allows borrowers to pay more than the monthly loan payment to reduce the debt period more quickly but allows them to ‘take back’ the extra money they’ve paid if an emergency arises. This feature reduces the anxiety of using up liquidity to pay down a loan quicker without permanently tying up the money. The term of the loan adjusts depending on how much is taken back.
Trusona Executive is a QR code digital identity solution that enables frictionless, password free multi-factor identity authentication at scale, including identity-proofing and step-up authentication using a person’s government-issued ID such as a driver’s license. It can be used to provide a consistent authentication experience for users across any digital channel.
Alpharank has developed a data analytics tool that can help FI’s supercharge customer acquisition by using historical transaction data. FIs can create Customer Graphs with anonymous transaction card data to help them understand how products and behaviors spread through customer networks and how to leverage the concept of communities to their advantage. As we live, work and bank in communities it really makes sense to market to people that way as well. If any of these descriptions catch your interest you can watch the on-stage demos for these 5 companies and the other 47 companies that participated in the Finvovate Spring Conference by visiting: https://finance.knect365.com/finovatespring/
Finovate Spring 2018 was a great event and a chance to glimpse into the future of fintech but what does all this mean for credit unions? Having attended Finovate for the last few years the event itself acts as a bit of a barometer for the fintech space and this year the number of presenters was down from past years. This could be a sign that either the pace of innovation is slowing or perhaps the innovation itself is shifting from outside fintech companies to inside financial institutions themselves through their own in-house incubators. The key takeaway for credit unions should be that our industry continues to be a focus for innovation and that, whether we choose to work with these types of companies or build it ourselves, we should always be looking for new ways to use technology to deliver a better experience to our members.