FStech rounds up FinovateEurope 2017

Hundreds of FinTech startups, investors and bankers flocked to the Old Billingsgate market building in London for the much-anticipated FinovateEurope 2017 earlier this month.

The two-day event, which took place between Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th February, saw more than 70 FinTechs demo their new and innovative products to a packed out crowd, with seven companies awarded Best in Show trophies at the end of the event.

FStech’s Chris Lemmon and Anthony Strzalek round up the highlights of the eighth annual FinovateEurope.

Day one

This year’s schedule of demonstrations began in their usual seven-minute format, with a ringing bell to signal when a presentation had overrun its allotted time. Finovate is renowned for running its international conferences on a strict schedule, highlighted on a couple of occasions throughout the day when the microphones were switched off for presenters who continued to talk once the bell had rung.

It did not take long for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to put its stamp on this year’s conference, with four of the first five presentations based on this technology. The use of AI and other emerging technologies to replace or enhance previously time-consuming tasks was a definite theme throughout the day, as the financial world begins to focus on delivering a much faster processing time for tasks. Companies such as Aixigo, Jumio, nCino and Signicant, among many others, presented solutions that focused on accelerating the time to complete previously drawn-out tasks in the financial market, such as identity authentication or mortgage applications.

Following on from the success of its ‘60 second onboarding’ solution in 2016, Dutch firm Backbase returned to Finovate this year to claim another Best in Show award for a new product that looks to combine AI technology with PSD2 compliance for a mobile banking digital experience. The Backbase platform, which launched this month, simplifies and unifies business-related documents, such as payables and receivables, into an easy-to-use digital interface. Customers are also granted coupons and loyalty bonuses without having to open the app, which is integrated directly with Apple Pay.

Wealth and investment management also continued to be a key Finovate theme this year, with no less than nine firms presenting such solutions on the first day alone. Notable demonstrations included Comarch, a virtual in-car, voice-enabled solution that allows users to manage their investment portfolio whilst on the road; and Aixigo, an Alexa-enabled platform which uses API technology for digital wealth management.

Another previous winner of a Finovate Best in Show award, SaleMove was back for more success in 2017, picking up a trophy for its engagement platform that enables financial institutions to communicate with online visitors via video or online chat when they are navigating an application process for a product.

Social media also proved to be on the minds of FinTech firms this year, with a number of demonstrations looking to benefit from social networks. London-based startup EarlyBird has created its own Twitter platform for banks, which uses AI technology to analyse and predict online trends to identify relevant information for FIs.

And a charismatic presentation team from social media banking platform Memento seemed to perk up the Finovate audience late on in the first day, scooping the company a Best in Show trophy. Demonstrating for the first time at Finovate, the Iceland-based firm told a story of a group of friends planning a stag do for one of their peers. The Memento mobile platform connects friends across different social media sites, with the ability to manage shared expenses, and book flights and experiences directly from the app. The app also allows users to “publicly shame” friends when they have not paid up, raising a laugh from the audience after showing a Facebook post displaying a photo of a naked man lying on the beach with the caption “Dude, where’s my money?”.

Companies developing new solutions using biometric authentication were an expected presence during the day, with industry veterans Jumio and EyeVerify demoing their latest products. Jumio is adding document authentication to its repertoire, while EyeVerify has developed a solution which analyses the veins and whites of the eyes of users. Other FinTechs on day one also trying their hand at biometrics were Hooyu, which verifies data from online sources such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and Iproov, which uses flashing lights which interact with customers’ faces to create a unique “one-time biometric stamp”.

Day two

First out of the blocks on day two was Mitek, a California-based identity verification firm who demoed its new Mobile Verify technology. Users can scan passports or other global ID document via a mobile device quickly and securely using biometric selfie technology. A fake passport was identified as such in one second. Scanning the chip on the front of a real passport also provided a photo and additional information on that particular person.

Of the seven firms at Finovate who received Best in Show awards, four were from the second day. The first of these was Swedish startup Tink. Tink is an app which, according to the firm’s CEO and founder Daniel Kjellen, “allows users to manage all their money in one place” and “not only stay on top of their finances but improve them”. Tink allows users to see how much they spend in a particular category, for example on entertainment, on their car or at restaurants. It provides tips and advice and also allows users to open a savings account directly through the app.

With more than six million users, eToro is said to be one of the most popular trading apps on the market. The firm, founded by Yoni and Ronen Assia, also took home a Best in Show award for its new service called CopyFunds for Partners, which allows its partners to create and distribute their funds. eToro members can track and automatically copy trades from a range of successful traders around the world, as well as gain insight on risk, trading statistics and real-time performance of the funds.

After lunch a number of high quality demos caught the eye, but one that stood out the most was from Worldline. This French startup took to the stage with its Connected Piggy Bank, a talking pig that connects to a digital platform and mobile app, and helps educate children in finance as well as supports them to save money. When money is deposited in the physical piggy bank the app is automatically updated, and friends and family can transfer money into the child’s account remotely. The app also uses games and other fun tools to teach children about finances.

The other two winners of Best in Show on the final day of Finovate were Dorsum and CREALOGIX. Hungary-based Dorsum unveiled its new AI chatbot, Daisy, which “enables financial institutions to utilise the inherent potential in customer acquisition”. The firm’s Botboarding platform allows banks to create onboarding chatbots which can supply customers with information about products and services as well as provide financial advice.

CREALOGIX are a Swiss firm which was founded in 1996. The firm was the only Finovate participant on the second day to demo a virtual reality-based product or service. Using a headset, the CREALOGIX team highlighted how financial information and insight could be gathered and viewed in a world of virtual reality, using vivid imagery to create a new experience in banking.

There were many other high quality demos and products on display at FinovateEurope 2017 that were too numerous to mention. The themes that really stood out over the two days were speed and automation, the usability of apps, Big Data and wealth management, with perhaps less than expected on the virtual reality front. All in all however, it was another insightful event which showcased some very exciting new players to keep an eye on over the coming year.

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