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Turning up the dial at Finovate Europe

I was delighted to participate in the recent Finovate Europe in London where over two days I engaged with some of the most influential speakers within global finance, discussing how technology, business, politics, and economics align in the challenging times we face in 2023.  

Finovate is a key annual conference focused exclusively on showcasing the best and most innovative new financial and banking technologies. The conference attracts a large, high-impact audience of senior financial and banking executives, fintech founders, venture capitalists, press, bloggers, industry analysts, regulators, and entrepreneurs.

The conference delivers a unique blend of key insights from thought-leaders combined with practical short-form demonstrations and a great deal of networking, making the event a highlight for most senior banking and financial institution leaders. 

Arriving on the morning of the first day at the Intercontinental 02, the event was packed with senior industry practitioners from the outset. Many attendees were using the hotel facilities and the event spaces were dressed to impress, with an air of enthusiasm amongst the attendees who were keen to connect with experts in both technology and business. Conversation was in full flow and new connections were being made amongst all participants. 

The agenda was full of key-note speeches, key speakers, exhibitors, demos, and an impressive number of vendor stalls pitching the latest and greatest innovations in technology around payments, anti-money laundering (AML), security, digital keys and know your customer (KYC).  

The agenda spoke to both traditional and ‘neo banking’ for retail banks, with some great sessions that addressed the following key themes:   

  1. Digital transformation in banking 
  2. Convergence of traditional and digital assets  
  3. Banking in the metaverse  
  4. The next big areas of opportunity for banking  

The keynote speech on digitisation and financial crime expressed that “the digitalisation of the financial industry has resulted in an avalanche of financial crime, and the numbers are only projected to grow.” Whilst this might be perceived as somewhat worrying, this was also seen as an excellent opportunity for FinTechs to engage the market and provide leading-edge solutions. 

There was also a session on how to build and monetise relationships in the metaverse, with mixed opinions on how and when traditional financial institutions should get involved. 

How banks can create value in the metaverse 

The metaverse and banking session highlighted the size and scale of economies that already exist in a virtual world, e.g. Roblox – then went on to explore how banks can create value in these virtual worlds, in line with their risk tolerances and regulatory roles.  

There was a great session titled digital transformation, the problem is you, exploring the need to change thinking and behaviours, as well as replace legacy technology in order to have a successful digital transformation journey

One vendor product looked really interesting. Based in San Francisco, they were founded in 2021 by the team behind Threatmetrix. The Darwinium solution brings the next generation of security and fraud prevention to market and the team gave a great demo on stage. They are a really nice team, with a product that seeks to mitigate financial crime by tracing through user journeys and finding exploits within applications. 

The legacy of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) 

With the shocking news about Silicon Valley Bank, there was a last-minute session to explore the ramifications of the collapse on the industry. Greg Palmer, Vice President at Finovate and David Barton-Grimley, Strategy Director, Embedded Financial Services at 11:FS took to the stage to discuss what the collapse of SVB means for FinTechs, financial institutions and the future of banking! 

Later in the day it was time for the Finovate Europe 2023 best of show awards so a big congratulations to all the winners!  

It was great to see these innovative organisations which are all worth exploring in more detail.

The need to diversify FinTech 

Day 2 of Finovate kicked off with a Women in FinTech breakfast briefing. It is widely acknowledged that FinTech has a gender diversity problem, so it was great to see a really diverse selection of panellists, exhibitors and speakers over the course of the conference.   

Magdalena Kron, Nitzan Solomon, Chantal Swainston, Veronique Steiner and Angela Yoreled the briefing which highlighted the need for more women in tech. The session was inspirational and I have connected via LinkedIn for excellent industry insights! 

Later on, there was an interesting session on Banks and FinTech collaboration - are they ever really a partnership? There were some notable examples of co-creation was called out but there is really so much more that both sides can do in this space to create transformational change. 

A great example of this was a unicorn session including Thought Machine, the leading cloud-based core banking platform. Areas that the panel believed will deliver the next big opportunities included cloud innovation and real-time analytics. They highlighted that the financial services industry needs to learn from the advances made by the media and retail sectors. All participants agreed that to take advantage of the next big opportunity, firms need to focus on execution, not just ideation.   

ESG was another prominent topic and FinTech OakNorth highlighted how businesses should focus on ESG strategy, with transparency being key. The session explored how banks struggle with data modelling and mining and lack the internal skillsets in data science. It was suggested that there will be £7.2 trillion spending in this space for the next 10 years in order to hit carbon neutral!  

Another keynote address was from Manas Charla, CEO at London Politica, focusing on the geo-political impact of technology on business. It was great to hear Manas’ thoughts on Big tech’s geopolitical awakening! Certainly the recent advances of large language models such as ChatGPT and Google Bard have brought this thinking into sharp focus, highlighting that this topic is certainly one to follow with a great understanding of global issues and impact!  

What does the future hold? 

John Hulsman, geopolitical expert and Life Member at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations took to the stage to discuss that now the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming more widely felt, what it will take to harness their potential and how they can create a positive impact on the future of work. 

Geopolitical impact in banking can be seen with the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. The rise in federal interest rates is due to inflation caused by global geo-political matters. New measures must be taken to protect our banking institutions from a highly volatile market. 

I particularly enjoyed the fireside chat on why diversity matters. Sanghamitra Karra, MD and Head of the EMEA Multicultural Innovation Lab at Morgan Stanley and David Penn, Research Analyst at Finovate discussed the case for diversity in your organisation, your team, your customers, and your revenue growth. David Penn made a great case for why it is important for businesses to operate within acceptable margins.  

Overall, the Finovate event was both gripping and very well put together and really demonstrated how firms will be able to utilise innovative new tech to turn up the dial in terms of performance. If you get a chance to go to the next one it comes highly recommended.

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