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Finovate or maybe not

The first ever FinovateEurope took place this Tuesday morning at the beautiful London Business Design Centre. Chris Skinner kicked of the show by placing the focus on four themes: mobile, customer experience, security and data mining.

An exciting and promising starting point, however things turned out a bit different.

After having seen seven or eight personal finance management (PFM) solutions, your attention span starts to slip. You start to grow allergic to the word PFM and you begin to wonder whether Finovate has turned into a PFM pageant show. I spotted a couple of analysts from Gartner and Forrester at the event and I can already guess at their soon to be published research conclusion: “By 2014 there will be more PFM solutions on the market than banks”. Ubiquiem seems to be the latest addition to the list. Don’t get me wrong, I love PFM’s but I would like to see my local accounts and my offshore account in one portal.  I would also like to see a standard for exchanging B2C data rather than having to rely on screen scraping technologies to make this work. Now, that would be innovative! It would be nice to see more thanjust another web 2.0 blue and green themed software package sporting glossy buttons and Flash charts.

Web 2.0 did feature in a number of community comparison, peer-to-peer trading advice and lending solutions like Friendsclear and A word of advice to next year’s contenders though, don’t use the word “Twits” in your company name no matter how good you are.

Continuing in the web 2.0 realms, kudos to Fidor Bank for integrating virtual currencies and the ability to transfer more than cash, for example commodities, between accounts. I wouldn’t have expected that from a bank, least at all from a German bank.

I’m still wondering what the Capital Access Network and Ncore Systems presentations were all about - I couldn’t find head nor tail here. The Amsterdam branch of Finovate must have selected them. Talking about Holland, it seems that IDEAL, the Dutch payment system will get reincarnated by Payo in the UK.

Cardlytics and Linxo gave an insight on how to make money out of data mining. Couple this with a bit of location-based services and you’ll get a killer app next year. A slew of security solutions also passed the review but none really convinced me. Taking a picture with my phone of a barcode displayed on a merchant terminal to make a payment? Come on, bring on NFC now!

Surprisingly, looking at the guest list, it seems that bank attendance was less than 30% which leaves me to wonder who the participants were pitching to.
All in all, an interesting day with lots of ups and downs but not the wow factor I was expecting. Maybe Chris should have brought up Susan Boyle on stage after all.


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 03 February, 2011, 12:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Although there are standard formats like QIF for retail banking statements, what seems lacking is a way by which the user can allow the PFM application to ONLY download statements from the Internet Banking portal but block everything else. 

Under the circumstance, the user has two options: (1) Share her Internet Banking credentials with the PFM, which effectively gives a carte blanche to the PFM - and their partners and potential hackers - to help themselves to all features in her Internet Banking portal (2) Avoid sharing account credentials with the PFM, instead download the statements by visiting the Internet Banking portal herself, then upload the statements to the PFM website.

Option 1 is supported by almost all PFMs but allaying users' security concerns is not easy. Apart from KUBLAX, the UK PFM which downed its shutters sometime ago, I haven't come across any other PFM supporting Option 2, which probably suggests that B2C statement formats are far from being common knowledge. But, as I'd pointed out in this post, Option 2 poses tremendous friction and undermines the value proposition of PFM for many users.

This seems to be a major hurdle in the way of mass adoption of non-bank providers of PFM.       

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