Like all good things, FinovateFall 2018 ended all too quickly; the event passing by in a flash of demos, presentations, networking sessions and cocktails. But those who were on hand got to see what some of the hot next-generation financial technology will look like. As we noted in our Finovate preview blog, the conference has become one of the best places to see the latest and greatest emerging trends in fintech.
After a whirlwind few days, here are a few of the main takeaways and trends that dominated this year’s FinovateFall.
AI isn’t going anywhere
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hyped technology in financial services over the last couple of years, and it seems the hype is real. There was a significant focus on AI at the conference, and several presenters that featured the technology in unique ways.
Among those was one of the ‘Best of Show’ winners, Bond.AI, which uses an “empathy engine” to help banks better understand their customer’s behavior and help enhance their financial health.
Finn AI, last year's 'Best of Show' winner and inaugural speaker at Finovate's AI Fintech Summit this year, is another company in the AI space featuring a virtual assistant built for personal banking and finance. Aiming to “put a personal banker in every bank customer's pocket,” the fintech company helps bank customers to manage their money.
But AI goes beyond just customer-facing services. James Finance, for example, showed off an AI engine that helps lenders better determine creditworthiness and make credit risk management decisions.
All in all, AI looks like it will be around for awhile in financial services. For financial marketers, this means being able to mine massive amounts of data giving you the ability to offer ultra targeted, highly relevant messaging. AI-powered devices, like virtual assistants also offer more ways to connect with customers.
It seems like it’s been forever that people have been talking about trying to “fix” the way we manage identity and authenticate ourselves in a digital world. But yet, most of us are still typing in usernames and passwords like we did in 1998. In fact, around 3 billion passwords are stolen every year, according to one Finovate presenter.
Several companies offered solutions relating to facial and other biometrics, often in combination with some other aspect of authentication, such as an image of a driver’s license or other type of identity card. We also saw demos that showed how customers can draw their password rather than type one in.
Others were not so much focused on eliminating the password but radically changing how they are used; such as an interface that masks a consumer’s password to the end user, by displaying unique, different versions of the password to each business that holds it.
What’s clear is there is no magic bullet just yet for completely secure digital authentication. But there are several bright fintechs working to solve this problem.
Financial firms need to consider these trends when thinking about the customer experience; are your forcing your customers to log in with a username and password? Or are you also providing biometric options? Customers today expect a frictionless experience, and these are things to consider about your user interface.
Much of the early days of fintech were about the latest cool innovation for the retail customer, but in recent years has seen a much greater focus on using technology to provide efficiency and automation to improve back-end operations.
Namaste Credit presented a service which helps lenders easier manage (and reduce) paper on the back-end and uses technology to capture documents needed in the lending process, thus reducing paper throughout the entire workflow.
Products targeted towards the municipal bond market are usually few and far between at Finovate, but one firm, MuniRisk, showed off a solution designed to allow its users to do research on municipal bond issuers.
Some also presented technology that can help banks deliver back office automation and relief to small business clients, to help make manage the onboarding process easier.
While B2B was on the rise, it should be noted consumer-facing tools were still a big part of Finovate. Simpler Trading, which was noteworthy for being the only Finovate presenter with an all-female team on stage deming -- drew plaudits for its investing education platform.
Once again, APIs were a big topic of conversation at Finovate. To mention every company that talked about APIs would be too time-consuming, but with new data-sharing laws coming into effect globally at a rapid pace, it seems that APIs will power the future financial ecosystem.
There was talk about APIs connecting banks and fintechs to offer new innovative products to customers; to connect data held at different accounts to provide a fuller picture of financial health to clients; in credit decisions and even security. Companies such as Cambr that attended offer API toolkits to connect banks with fintechs.
But however they are used, APIs look to be underpinning the future economy, connecting people to products, financial firms to new partners, and allowing consumers to decide when, where and by whom their data is accessed. For financial communicators, if you use open APIs it’s important to let your customers and stakeholders know that you have the ability to not only offer your own innovative products and services, but can connect them with innovative fintechs and other third parties to take advantage of a wide ecosystem, all while they maintain control of their own data.