The Finnovate series of conferences are a showcase for banking and financial technology (fintech) organizations to demonstrate the technologies and services they are pioneering. The week of September 24th, at Finovate Fall 2018 in New York City, 79 Fintechs presented in rapid-fire, real-time seven minute demos (with no slides) focused heavily on enhancing digital user experience, open banking, artificial intelligence (AI) and data.
The fintechs’ offerings on display were far ranging and addressed various user types, customers and markets within the FSI space. There were demos about the application of AI facial recognition at ATM machines, along with integration of your mobile device to enhance security and transaction experience.
One of the fintech’s focused on AI for data exchange to create a single experience for banking and accounting. Another designed to make shoppers into shareholders - allowing customers to earn stock in their favorite brands, believing that ownership can be one of the most powerful of rewards. Several people from fintechs present at the event described the desire to transform both the lenders’ offerings and the borrowers’ experience simultaneously.
Other fintechs that demonstrated their products were focused on specific FSI markets. Some of the target industries discussed included small loans that focused on the US Hispanic market - looking beyond credit scores to help borrowers with short-term loans that could improve their credit scores as they pay them off. There was an FSI company geared toward the baby boomers taking care of their senior parents’ financial security - offering to help with bill paying, government benefits and healthcare needs. As well as a Fintech engaged in financial literacy for high school students providing an interactive and fun way to understand how to manage money and make smart choices.
Best of Show winners for the conference were given top marks for their work to improve customer experience. One was described as building empathy in the financial transaction process with an age agnostic experience, while the other described boosting mundane bank experiences with insight, and financial management coaching.
Much of the discussion revolved around the criticality of data in our world, with many focused on the data as the core asset and yet how it was ironic that we create data but often do not own it.
And while AI played a heavy role at this conference (with several of the exhibitors at the event used the term AI in their name), the relationship between AI and data was not lost. One panel member noted during an AI discussion that data is the "oxygen for your business."
Open Banking, bringing the data together across broad ecosystems, was also at the event. The Open Bank Project (OBP) was discussed at Finovate and has built a set of technology and surrounding ecosystem of tools to work with a financial-focused development community of financial institutions helping organization push forward in their path toward more digital offerings.
Red Hat’s Financial Services team met with many of the more than 40 companies at the three-day event. During the conversations with companies at Finnovate, one theme I heard frequently was that these organizations want to be able to run their application in the data center, virtualized, and across major cloud providers. Several of the Fintechs I spoke to are only working with a single cloud provider today, but the ability for workloads to move between data center to cloud could be a critical differentiator.
It is clear that one of a bank’s critical challenges is in operating fintech solutions on premise in adherence to security standards and data management regulations. Traditional banking IT Ops typically inspect the solutions and validate whether they were built with supported enterprise-grade components before running them in production.
Red Hat’s products are open source software that are designed to operate at banks and can be utilized by the wider Fintech ecosystem to build solutions with enterprise-grade middleware, API management and multi-cloud platforms. This can help to accelerate adoption of fintech solutions in the financial service industry by companies with stronger regulatory requirements and lower tolerance for risk.
As a Fintech and FSI customer seeks to move toward better digital customer experiences and opening their services to partners, Red Hat can help bring the two closer together.