Thousands of developers, software engineers and students gathered at Microsoft Build 2019 to learn about the latest advances across technologies critical to the future of banking, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things and Mixed Reality for cloud or edge computing.
In its sixth year, the focus for Microsoft Build 2019 was to empower developers to use technology to enable new experiences at work and in our daily lives. Here’s a breakdown of how fintech developers could benefit from announcements made at the Seattle event this year.
Arguably the biggest announcement from Build 2019 was Microsoft’s biometric facial recognition system Windows Hello becoming a FIDO2-certified authenticator service, set to be available in the next release of Windows 10.
This means that any website or application can now authenticate users with Windows Hello, after having joined the FIDO ecosystem – a major step in the right direction for increased security and the eradication of passwords.
Microsoft also pland on extending password-less services for Firefox and other browsers after enabling support for Edge, which will result in users being able to sign on to their Microsoft account with Windows Hello on any Internet browser.
Updates to Microsoft Azure’s AI Cognitive Services and the recently announced Anomaly Detector could be a gamechanger for bank processes.
Janet Lewis, vice president of global financial services at Microsoft wrote that this service could help to automate and simplify applications for financial crime, anti-money laundering and sanctions screening.
The Anomaly Detector is part of Azure Cognitive Services’ new category called Decision which Lewis explained would give “connected devices, bots and apps the ability to see, hear, respond, translate, reason and more.”
Decision would also allow developers to make “quick and informed decision-making. This will help financial services organisations understand what someone is specifically looking for and provide more personalised experiences”, Lewis said.
Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Semantic Machines in its quest to improve conversational AI products last year, the tech giant revealed at Build 2019 that it is working on a new technology “that moves past the restriction of rules, intents and skills into a new, modern era of true language understanding, based on powerful AI algorithms and data-driven models where it can contextually understand people”.
Dan Roth, corporate vice president and former CEO of Semantic Machines, said that once natural language technology is incorporated into products like Cortana, it will be made available through the Microsoft Bot Framework where developers will be able to migrate existing data to the new conversational engine.
“As a developer you can start building these experiences yourself. We can collectively move, on the basis of this technology, past this notion of skills and silos and simple handwritten programs into the kind of fluid Star Trek-like natural language interfaces we all want,” Roth said.
Microsoft’s Azure API Management tool also promises to simplify how companies secure and analyse their APIs in a range of different situations that need consumption-based usage, reducing the associated operational overhead.
Lewis pointed out the benefit for financial institutions who are using the API-management product for open banking and PSD2 because they would only be paying for actual usage.
Finally, with a new Ethereum connector being added to Microsoft Power Platform, blockchain development becomes democratised, enabling enterprises to create and deploy a fully managed consortium network with the Azure Blockchain Service.
Microsoft’s Visual Studio code extension for Azure Blockchain also allows developers to build blockchain apps on the service or on public Ethereum using Azure or other tools such as Truffle and Solidity.
This new streamlined service also means that developers can create Ethereum smart contracts and expose them as a web service to push ledger data to applications or databases. Microsoft’s strategic partnership with JPMorgan, announced last week, is also expected to further develop the adoption of blockchain technology.
Devcons are always hectic events. Sometimes the goodness lies hidden in the detail. If you are a fintech developer, and attended or tuned in to Build, add your highlights in comments.