The following is a guest blog post by Rutger van Faassen, Head of Product & Market Strategy for FBX at Informa Financial Intelligence.
Like many of you, I am still getting used to the virtual conference format. We all miss the in-person networking and engagement with conference participants; however, the saved travel time is an excellent perk. With the platform open for two weeks, I was able to get a couple of additional sessions in that I would have most likely missed in the pre-Covid world. I did find it challenging to keep 100% focused on the conference as my day to day business would find its way into my field of attention. After watching all the demos and many of the other sessions, here are my overall observations and key take-aways from the conference…
As Greg Palmer kicked-off the conference and set the stage for the event in the current environment, he mentioned a couple of things that I thought were insightful as a jump-off point. First, banks can move quickly if they need to (especially in the case of PPP). Second, customers can be much more flexible (taking advice from Financial Institutions). Third, banks that invested in digital were in a better position to deal with pandemic.
Not surprising, many of the companies providing demos at Finovate had an angle that fit in well with the current pandemic environment where remote engagement and digital journeys are extremely important.
Facilitate digital transformation for those left behind
A premier example of this is Zeta, who provides an App Integrated banking platform facilitating the consumer’s digital journey. Two features jumped out to me from this platform. First is the option for point-of-purchase financing while in browser journey – so you can get a loan for a product you want to buy on Amazon as you are browsing on your mobile device. Second is the Family Hub – to manage family financials within the App with a 60-day implementation timeline makes it a perfect fit in the current environment.
Similarly, Dan Michaeli, CEO & Co-Founder from Glia showed us how to provide better digital customer service by identifying digital body language (a new term for me!). The two features he showed us, ‘Co-Browsing’ and ‘Video Chat in App’, are crucial features in this new abnormal time where circumstances push us to engage remotely through digital channels.
As our device time has increased dramatically, it is crucial that the experience is pleasant and helpful to keep us engaged with our financial institutions. Q2 showed us how to deliver Dynamic Personalization to make the content and offers provided as relevant and engaging as possible.
Productfy demonstrated its secure platform for any company to launch fintech applications, financial products, or services in as little as 3 weeks. Great news for financial institutions who find themselves hopelessly behind in their digital transformation in a time where a digital journey is essential.
With a strong shift to online shopping, GoPoints Loyalty Group provides a platform (currently operational in Russia) to help set up and manage reward’s programs. It is a turnkey solution with various integration options to help financial institutions that are behind in their digital transformation get up and running with a proven platform.
Finzly, one of the “Best in Show” winners, provides a customer engagement engine that helps financial institutions – through a drag and drop interface – to set up customer onboarding flows at “fintech speed”. Another solution to help financial institutions that find themselves struggling during the pandemic due to a lack of digital customer journeys.
Enhance engagement with SMBs leveraging online tools
Another key group that has been impacted during the pandemic is small businesses. Any solution to help financial institutions help this segment garnered lots of attention. Monit offers a platform that provides value for both bankers and small businesses with relevant and actionable contextual offers based on the data gathered from the small business cashflow projections. Anything that helps small businesses preserve their most valuable resource, time, is a good idea in my book.
Like Monit, the UpSwot is focused on changing the way banks serve SMBs by first, being the Mint for business and second, combining analytics from different Apps SMBs use on one screen. It then allows the platform to provide notifications and a forecast for future financial cash flows. Even if a lender is not comfortable providing a loan at this point (by analyzing the data), they will help the SMB understand when they could qualify.
Deal with downsides of our digital world
Solving a very different challenge caused by the pandemic, a lack of in person networking opportunities, Momentifi created continued education sessions that provide an opportunity to connect with industry participants.
The Finovate format using demonstrations does an excellent job at giving the audience a clear idea how the solution solves for a particular use case. Instnt not only showed how their solution uses AI for KYC analysis, they also will put their money where their mouth is and will indemnify the user for losses due to fraud. In these strange and uncertain times, that is a strong commitment to their solution.
Given all new data privacy regulations that have come online, and the increasing awareness of consumers of their right for their data to be removed, one thing that stood out to me in the Ninth Wave demo was their seamless process to address this through the instant creation of a Digital certificate to confirm that data has been removed.
Side effects of a digital revolution are more space for innovation and new solutions. IM and Chat Message has eclipsed emails and calls resulting in financial institutions needing a solution to capture, populate, encrypt, and archive historically inaccessible messaging data in real time. Nuri Otus, txtsmarter CEO & Founder demonstrated how his platform provides a solution for this digital journey challenge.
As we get more and more digital, the risk of data breaches increases exponentially. Breach Clarity, another “Best of Show” winner, showed how their solution helps customers of financial institutions deal with these breaches with a score that lets a customer know how meaningful the breach is and then what action to take.
Support existing digital journeys with additional tools
The constant challenge of security of information has been amplified as most communication now happens remote through digital channels. Arnexa provides one tap secure message delivery which removes the friction of having to take several steps to get a secure message. Reducing friction is certainly on everyone’s 2020 bingo-card! In the same vein, CoConet was showcasing how to turn SlowBoarding into QuickBoarding as most new clients get onboarded digitally.
DeepTarget also provides a digital experience platform that aims for better customer engagement and increased sales. It is leveraging practices from social media by providing real human stories to enhance customer engagement. The platform lets you treat people differently at scale.
A key part of the engagement in a digital world is how you communicate with customers through different channels. LinkLive Banking securely and seamlessly connects humans to their financial institutions through a full suite of communication services. Using different options like chatbots, the ability to transfer to the next available live agent and in-browser desktop sharing.
Tom Martin, CEO of Glance Networks, showed us how his platform helps deliver real human connections by allowing financial institution’s employees to join a customer within the App/Browser via video within the embedded securely of their own platform. With just one click, a video conference can be launched, and co-browsing can be established.
Financial health management
A theme that has come to the top of consumers priority list during the pandemic – in addition to their physical health – is their financial health. Planning for a financially healthy future is top of mind and having tools to provide consumers with insights certainly support this. Sheryl O’Connor, CEO of WealthConductor, showed us how their platform provides insight into future financials using a product agnostic approach (so not pushing any provider) with easy reports written at 8th grade level. The platform works both when planning for retirement as well as when entering retirement and will hopefully help to reduce the Bankruptcy rates which have recently doubled within retirees.
Facilitating easier shopping and payment journeys
In line with a key trend of making the payment and lending part of the sales cycle easier, Payever shared how its solution seamlessly integrates the process from shopping to payment and marketing to shipping.
VRAY offers an Omni-channel payment platform that provides simple and secure consumer experiences across different platforms. It lets consumers have subscriptions without giving out their credit card info… and the option to cancel any time. This shortens check out due to no need for client information (which makes them more comfortable) and reduces chargebacks.
Enhanced use of AI and ML
On day two of the conference, Deniz Kaya, Director of Product Management & Digital Channels at Fiserv, showed us how they are using conversational AI to power a Voice Assistant who still sounds a lot like a robot, but can understand complex questions and provide actionable insights and advice. During this pandemic where call center volumes are at record high, a voice assistant can reduce the pressure on the call center. Integration in a core platform will also give access to a wealth of data to help answer customer questions.
As the digital revolution is accelerating, financial institutions gather more and more data. DQLabs showed us a platform that manages data automatically using AI/ML to support a data strategy and improve customer experience. It helps profile and curate data and suggests ways to fix data errors like misspellings.
View into the future
One of the Keynotes by Strategic Futurist and TEDx Curator, Nancy Giordano, gave us an interesting perspective: that although we are going through lots of change, we are only one percent in. She discussed the four awakenings reshaping society and how we need to shift from Leadership to Leadering. One nugget of insight that made me smile (and which I am going to attempt) is the Harvard Business Review article about how telling an embarrassing story before doing a group brainstorm will result in a better outcome.
There were several other interesting panels and keynotes, but this is my quick summary of the conference. Overall, we had a great display of solutions that align very well with the challenges and opportunities we are facing during the pandemic. Lots of solutions for financial institutions who find themselves left behind in the digital acceleration and need help catching up. Additional tools for those who have already established a digital journey for their customers but want to enhance it and make life a little easier for everyone. Great news for Small Businesses, who have been hit the hardest during this pandemic, with support through new technology driven solutions. And how cool that technology can provide insights into our financial health and how to manage it! One way of doing that is using AI and ML to make all solutions better, faster, and more intuitive. In this new abnormal where we search for the best ways to adapt, I am pleased to conclude that doing Finovate virtually was a pleasant digital customer journey.
Rutger van Faassen brings more than two decades of experience in international retail lending to FBX and its clients. He has previously held roles at Nomis Solutions and ABN AMRO Bank.