Fintech

Finovate Spring – a focus on the practical

Finovate Spring – a focus on the practical. Image by a-image, Shutterstock.com
Written by Daniel Latimore

Daniel Latimore reports on the themes of Finovate Spring 2017, and shares his observations of topics covered and topics not covered.

Finovate Spring 2017 has just finished up in San Jose. My focus isn’t on individual companies, but rather the broad themes that I picked up from 59 presenters over the course of two days.

Themes

  1. Practicality. There were few gee-whiz, wildly futuristic presentations. Practicality ruled: companies focused on improving processes and delivering better outcomes. Solutions weren’t necessarily sexy or mind-blowing, but potentially more useful in terms of delivering reliable if unspectacular results.
  2. Employee efficiency. What’s more practical than making employees more efficient? Very little. Presenters automated processes, improved learning and took the drudgery and time out of many manual tasks.
  3. Artificial intelligence/machine learning. One way to make employees more efficient and increase that efficiency over time is through AI technologies such as Natural Language Understanding and Natural Language Generation. To improve those, apply machine learning over time.
  4. APIs/as-a-service. Another way to bring new ideas to market quickly is to tap into others who’ve already built the solutions. APIs are a key way of accessing many of these prebuilt products, some of which were offered as a service (think Family Office as a Service, and so on).
  5. Customer experience. In line with what banks have recently been telling us, improving the customer experience was top of mind for many customers. Whether making an interface more aesthetically pleasing, eliminating friction or speeding feedback, a keen focus on enriching interactions was evident throughout the event. I’d point out that the vast majority of solutions focused on the mobile experience, so much so that it almost doesn’t merit its own mention (but, since this didn’t used to be the case, it’s worth being explicit).

Observations

  • The presenting roster was down to 59 companies from 72 last year in San Jose. While more digestible, frankly it made many observers wonder whether this was an early sign that the fintech frenzy is moderating.
  • Other technologies that didn’t make the headlines but were present include analytics, biometrics and lending/mortgages.
  • I’m always interested in the dogs that didn’t bark. Two technologies completely absent from the roster were Apple Watch and blockchain. Others that were surprisingly underrepresented included voice, payments, branch and financial inclusion. As is my practice, I jotted down a few words associated with each presentation (the results are below).

Word cloud for Finovate Spring 2017 by Daniel Latimore.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by a-image, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Daniel Latimore

Daniel W Latimore, CFA, is the senior vice president of Celent’s banking practice and is based in the firm’s Boston office. Dan covers the banking ecosystem, digital and omni-channel banking, innovation, and core systems.

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