What You Saw and What You Missed at FinovateFall 2021



Earlier this week we celebrated the return to in-person events with FinovateFall. Though this year’s event felt a bit different from years past, with vaccination wristbands and social distancing replacing handshakes and hugs, there was an undeniable energy present. While it was wonderful to see many familiar people face-to-face, it was also refreshing to see new ideas and technology presented by the experts themselves.

With three days of demos, panels, keynotes, and networking, there was a lot to take in. Whether you attended in person or digitally, you were able to see some of the newest ideas and technology in banking and finance. And if you weren’t able to attend this time around, here’s a recap of what you saw and what you may have missed.

Overarching themes

  • Consumers have changed how they choose their bank.
    This one seems like a theme we’ve been hearing for a couple of years now, but I think it is becoming even more concrete as the move to digital is ever-accelerating. The anecdote I heard multiple times was how consumers used to base their banking relationship on which FI had the closest branch or the most ATMs in their region. Today, with the abundance of neobanks, consumers have a different mindset. They choose their banks based on the brand. Does it appear trustworthy and transparent, or is there too much fine print? Does it offer unique features such as early wage access that speak to the customer’s needs? Does it benefit the community? Does it speak to the unique needs of the customer’s tribe?
  • Cybersecurity should still be top-of-mind.
    The cybersecurity and fraud prevention theme is one that has been around since the dawn of fintech. It is also one that isn’t going away any time soon. With the push to digital, fraudsters are finding increased profits. At this week’s event, we saw multiple fintechs looking to stem the flow of cash into criminals’ pockets.
  • Regtech is rising.
    The U.S. has been slow to adopt existing regtech tools and create new ones. However, we’ve seen an increase in regulation around consumer data and customer communication. Not only that, but new technologies are also bringing pending regulation around AI, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies. Fintech is here to fill the dearth of regtech solutions and save financial services companies and fintech alike from legal headaches.
  • Consumers are ready for self-service.
    We now live in a world where people no longer want to make a phone call to order a pizza, but would rather do so via an app. On top of this mobile-first preference, consumers also expect things on-demand. For these reasons, the chatbots that were dismissed in years past as a solution-looking-for-a-problem. At this week’s conference, however, we heard that chatbots are now some of the most practical tools FIs can implement to best serve their clients.

My highlight

My favorite session was the Investor All Star panel featuring Alexa Von Tobel, Founder and Managing Partner of Inspired Capital, and Matt Harris, Partner at Bain Capital Ventures. The two discussed the new “creator economy,” a sub sector of the gig economy that represents not just social media influencers, but anyone who monetizes content online.

Harris pointed out that, in general, relatively little money trickles down to creators such as musicians and artists because much of the funds are gobbled up by middlemen such as studios, auction houses, galleries, and publishing companies. However, with the advent of NFTs it is now possible for any artist to directly reap the rewards of their labor using only an NFT Marketplace.

Von Tobel added that banks need to be ready to serve the unique needs of this new workforce, many of which are Gen Z, that wants to ditch traditional jobs to work for themselves.

Hints at what to expect for 2022

  • We’ll see more no code and low code solutions.
    At FinovateFall this year, it was obvious that the no code movement is having a moment. It democratizes the internet, making it easy for almost anyone to launch a new tool, product, solution, or even an entire business. Competition in this arena has been slowly heating up for years and next year we can expect it to explode.
  • There will be more chat bots and AI-enabled help channels
    With all of the mentions of self-service technology that pulsed throughout this week’s conference, it became clear that the chatbot movement isn’t just a passing fad. Given this, combined with the difficulty of creating self-service tools that actually meet customers’ needs, we can expect to see more, smarter chat bots and a wider variety of self-service tools.

This was Finovate’s last event for the year. Keep an eye out for updates on our conference roster for next year, including:

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

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