FinovateFall, the first demo-based conference focused entirely on fintech, debuted in 2007 and has gone from strength to strength. This year opened with a true success story. The story in question focussed on Lending Club, a Finovate presenter from the very first event. Lending Club, a US peer-to-peer lending company, are in the final stages of a $4 Billion IPO- an ambition, no doubt, mirrored by all of the companies waiting to present. This rather effectively set the context for the 71 companies that presented over the following two days.
This year saw a record breaking crowd turn out to witness the cutting edge of Fin Tech innovation. So much so that the venue was changed to accommodate all that wanted to attend, and even then they sold out. With 1,450 people waiting in the auditorium, Finovate was ready to commence.
Finovate events are like no other. The qualification criteria allow any financially related innovation to qualify, and if they do they have a seven minute demo slot to showcase their innovation. Due to this you have a wide breadth of products demoing alongside each other; one minute a demo could be showing you a voice biometric tech development and the next you might be being shown a real estate crowd funding app. It is a conference with variety.
In addition to the tight time limit, slide presentations are not allowed. Presenters therefore have seven minutes to focus solely on demoing their service online, to show how it is distinct and what benefits it can offer to financial institutions. This is certainly a way to focus the mind when presenting to a room of nearly 1,500 people.
But the demo isn't everything. FinovateFall provides insights into financial institutions, how they are currently working and where improvements can be made. So what did I learn about the state of global financial innovation?
Financial planning seems likely to be revolutionised by tech in the coming years:
This year there were a huge number of demos focused on helping customers to invest their money better and plan for their retirement. I think if I was a traditional IFA, I would be thinking very hard about how I could embrace some of this cloud tech to support the way I look after my clients.
Innovations around ID&V and streamlined processing are a big deal:
Lots of the presentations focused on trying to simplify lots of the customer's processes that have become a bug bear in recent years. One example, Anchor ID, even want to do away with the password(!) which years ago would have been unimaginable. However to make them more than just a good idea they need distribution, and the question here is will they get it?
Small businesses are still the poor relation:
Very few of the 71 demos at FinovateFall were really focused on solving small businesses issues, despite the fact that in most economies 50% of GDP is generated by SMBs. It amazes me that there is still precious little innovation that is aimed specifically at this segment.
The diverse demos were met with great interest by the financial institutions that were present. For BCSG, our platform got a great reception from bank attendees, bloggers and analysts - not least because our goal is to make life easier for small business owners. BCSG was singled out numerous times in the twittersphere, which was pleasing to see.
In line with the outcomes from the Efma small business banking conference, earlier this year, it is clear that in the coming years, there will be a significant change in the way banks look after and service their small business customers.