FinovateFall just wrapped up, and it was the best-attended ever. Every attendee has their own interpretation of three jam-packed days; some like to wander the floor to speak to exhibitors and companies that demoed, while other concentrate on what happens on stage and narrow their focus to those few companies that align to their specific interest. What gets me going is a bit different: I like to articulate the zeitgeist, assembling the broader themes brought into focus from the 62 individual presentations and dozens of interactions I had over the better part of a week in September.
Just as I did in those old, pre-Covid days, I jotted down a key few words from each presentation. I used wordart.com to assemble the wordcloud below.
Lending and Aggregation topped the list, with 8 mentions each (or 13% of the presentations).
Lending was quite evenly distributed between retail and business oriented applications, with some fintechs taking on the perennial challenge of underwriting better, or at least differently. Others, though, focused on streamlining the process, particularly on the back end.
PFM wasn’t the only source of aggregation. Bringing small businesses and wealth management platforms along for the aggregation ride was the goal of several presenters.
Platforms, a cousin of aggregation in some senses, came in third with six mentions. Platforms bring together data from a wide range of places, and there was a big emphasis on corralling information, then making sense of it for the end user.
Personalization is intimately tied to that, and thus figured prominently. So, too, did payments. And Small Business (SMB) was the focus of five fintechs as they try to bring the power of technology to bear in service of smaller enterprises.
Retail customers also figured prominently, and several fintechs had solutions that addressed various aspect of Compliance and Identity. And finally, there were four Intelligent Virtual Assistant (chatbot) offerings. @Celent recently profiled ten IVA solutions, and that more have been developed shows that there’s still room for innovation in the space.
What surprised me by not figuring prominently? Embedded Finance/Banking and Banking as a Service (BaaS) were rarely mentioned explicitly. Presenters danced around the topic, but none made it the centerpiece of their pitch.
And you may be wondering where Data played – in short, almost everywhere, so I didn’t include it. It would be like saying that water was important to fish; without data, we wouldn’t have fintechs.
Something else that didn’t really come through on my rankings: the quest for middle- and back-office efficiency for banks opening accounts and handling compliance and record keeping. One firm automates the provision of IRS tax records; another grabs state-filed documents like articles of incorporation from all 50 jurisdictions; while a third focuses on making regulations available to fintechs (and others) via APIs while focusing on just the regulations relevant to the task at hand.
If you’d like to dive deeper into Finovate just head over the Finovate.com; they do a great job of keeping track of presenting companies. If you’d like to hear more about my takeaways from the show, please drop me a line.