On 10-11 October, I attended the 2017 Canada Fintech Forum at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, arguably the largest fintech-themed conference in Canada. This year’s edition heavily focused on the rise of artificial intelligence and its potential in the financial sector. The event attracted about 1,500 attendees, with representation from financial and professional services firms such as Desjardins Group, Societe Generale, Deloitte and KPMG, as well as a number of promising Canadian and international startups. Here are my takeaways.
AI-related investments are experiencing a sharp increase, with Montreal leading the way
Michael Denham, CEO of the BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), delivered a vibrant keynote speech highlighting the increased level of AI-related investment in the country. AI attracted $162m in investments via 12 deals in the first half of 2017, the highest amount of funding in the past five years (based on a report by PwC Canada and CB Insights).
Montreal is the clear winner of such trend. Indeed, major tech companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Samsung have all committed to open ‘AI labs’ in the city, benefiting from a large talent pool from research institutions such as McGill University and Université de Montréal.
How will this affect the financial sector?, you may ask. It’s perhaps too early to say. However, there is hope that such initiatives will lead to increased collaboration with major financial service firms and the emerging fintech startup scene.
Promising startups pitch their offerings
As per tradition, a group of Canadian startups pitched their ideas at the event. The companies that caught my attention were as follows:
- Exagens. Exagens works with financial institutions to help “humanise” their digital channels via Max, its virtual personal financial assistant.
- Aidvisors. Aidvisors’ mission is to democratise AI and finance by offering affordable and profitable AI-driven investment strategies to “do-it-yourself investors”.
- Mindbridge. MindBridge AI introduced the world’s first commercial AI Auditor platform towards the end of 2016. Through the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, the MindBridge AI platform detects material irregularities in data, unintentional errors and intentional misstatements.
And the winner is … Flinks. Flinks is the only financial data aggregator dedicated to the Canadian market. Its associated open banking app comes without any setup fees.
All in all, the event was a success, confirming the growing interest for fintech in Montreal and Canada.
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