The annual Innovate Finance Global Summit 2018 kicked off the start of UK Fintech Week in London. Gathering over 300 Fintech companies, 200 speakers, and thousands of innovators, influencers and supporters from the global financial technology industry to explore the ideas and innovations shaping global fintech.
There were over 60 sessions held across the two days, from in-depth roundtable discussions on how to deliver real change with Open Banking, to ‘fireside chats’ with founders of Fintech unicorns. We did our best to take on as much as possible, whilst impossible to make an appearance at every event, we certainly made our mark on trying. These are our seven highlights from the 2018 Innovate Finance Global Summit:
One of the standout highlights of the summit was the Pitch360 event on Tuesday afternoon, hosted by Chris Denson. 24 FinTech startups, across 8 categories, took to the stage for 360 seconds each to talk about, and engage the audience in, their unique product.
The overall winner of the competition was Exate Technology that was focussed on the very topical area of data compliance. There were some superb ideas and companies on show and the the concluding pitch in the Personal Finance and Robo-Advice category came from a company called Pia, standing for your Personal Investment Assistant. They certainly stood out from the crowd, and went on to win the category.
We caught up with CEO Lex Deak after the event and he explained that Pia will be “your smart, friendly and supportive AI companion on your investing journey. A key focus of Pia is to provide highly engaging and interactive education about investing to help investors feel more confident. Anyone interested in helping us on this journey can register at yourpia.com to join our community and feedback on the product as it develops.” Certainly one to watch with a planned Beta test in the summer.
A journey from UK startup to global giant
Monday morning saw, Lance Uggla, founder of unicorn Markit (now IHS Markit) talk about his journey from zero to 19 billion dollar company with Philip Stafford. Starting out as a UK startup, Lance noted from his experience in growing this startup to a global information giant that, “competitive edge comes in many different ways – but above all it’s subject matter experts and content. Use technology to leverage these to achieve the leading product and service”, and whilst in a world where technology seems to be at our every beck and call his words of advice were that “we need to ensure people feel enhanced by technology, not replaced” – something of reassurance in a time where we fear the rise of the robots. Lance’s thoughts were a great way to start the summit as they are certainly a business that many of the FinTechs in attendance would surely love to emulate.
Has disruption really benefited the consumer?
FinTech has grabbed headlines for disrupting Financial Services, but is it just disruption for the sake of disruption? Iain McDougall from Stripe, Lucy-Marie Hagues from Capital One, Michael Kent from Azimo, Monica Kalia from Neyber and Shaun Port from Nutmeg took to The Great Hall on Monday to discuss how technology in the sector has really impacted the lives of consumers.
The panel seemed to agree that trust was a vital tool to stay ahead in the industry, with Iain McDougall stating “In a world where consumers have a lot more choice, consumers will vote with their feet and therefore it is all about trust” and Michael Kent from Azimo reaffirming the view that at Azimo “Customers stay for service and user experience. We [Azimo] are a technology company we aren’t a finance company. We apply technology to maximise customer outcomes.”
Can we move beyond the crypto Wild West?
After lunch on Monday, Dave Birch, Director of Innovation at Consult Hyperion took to the stage of the Livery Hall to moderate a panel of some of the most clued up in the crypto space, Carlos Espinal from Seedcamp, Philip Smith from Allen & Overy and Maya Zehavi from Stealthy New Venture.
With 2017 marking a pioneering year for cryptocurrencies there was no surprise that the topic featured more than once at the Innovate Finance Global Summit . Their combined market value went from less than $20bn to over $540bn last year alone and predictions have already been set for bitcoin to reach $60,000 per coin in 2018. Whilst this meteoric rise has brought high returns for some, it has also brought about many questions, particularly around regulation (or the lack of). The panel recognised the “real potential for tokenisation to disrupt the sector”, but both Philip Smith and Maya Zehavi agreed that this would only occur once it has emerged from the ‘regulatory shadows’.
Are we set for a global sandbox?
Director of Strategy and Competition of the FCA, Chris Woolard, took to The Great Hall on Day 1 to talk about regulators striking the right balance between certainty and flexibility to support and foster innovation in financial services, and the importance of safeguarding the integrity of markets.
A key focus of Chris Woolard’s talk was recognition of a ‘global sandbox’, and he stated that they will begin work on a blueprint for this later this week, but “The key to a global sandbox is collaboration across international regulators. Now is the time to bring regulators from around the world together. Collaboration will run through the next chapter of the UK Fintech story.” Whilst it remains unclear as to what this global sandbox may look like, it seems evident that it must be pragmatic and practical for this fast moving market.
Reconnecting with the customer amongst the new face of finance.
In a mobile focussed customer world, where messaging platforms and AI support enables a way of communicating in a conversational humanised manner – only, without the human, experts in the industry took to the stage on Day 2 of the summit to address this ‘new face of finance’. Sushil Saluja from Accenture moderated the panel consisting of Russell Pert, Industry Head, Financial Services at Facebook and Megan Caywood, Co-founder and Chief Platform Officer at Starling Bank.
With 2018 bringing Open banking and PSD2 to the industry, allowing for customers’ financial data to be unlocked and a closer scrutiny to be placed on the relationship customers’ have with their banks, applications and social media platforms, it was insightful to hear the panel note this not as a challenge, but instead an opportunity to ‘maximise the experience for customers by listening to their needs’. With Russell Pert expressing the two fold approach taken by Facebook ‘when working with key finance players, our focus is on retain and delight’. In a time where technology may be critiqued for appearing ‘faceless’, it brings with it optimism that these industry leaders are tackling this issue as an opportunity, rather than steering clear of it as a challenge.
Facebook knows more about your financial history than your bank.
13th January 2018…a date that will go down in history within the European Financial Services Industry as PSD2 came into play. But 64 days later, what has actually changed? Caroline Plumb OBE from Fluidly, Dave Cunningham from Priviti, Jamie Campbell from Bud, Alain Falys from Yoyo Wallet and Kris Ketels from SWIFT sat down on Day 2 of the summit to discuss this.
The panel, concluded (and harmoniously consensussed), that ultimately it’s time for banks to reinvent themselves. Whilst perhaps a slightly concerning fact that Facebook seems to be more engaged than your financial institution when it comes to your monetary propositions, it’s a thought topic that no doubt will be delved into further over the coming months.