What Matters to Banks: A Perspective Through the Lens of FinovateEurope 2023
It’s spring, so it means it’s time for FinovateEurope. It’s an event I always look forward to, as it's always very well-run with a good mix of interesting content, but somehow it felt like this one was the best in several years!
The event format has changed slightly since its inception – the trademark 7-minute company demos are still there, but only on the first day. The second day runs more like a regular conference with presentations and panel discussions on the latest hot topics. For the last few years, this second day has been kicking off with an Analyst All Star session, where three industry analysts are given the same seven minutes (even with the scary gong) to share their perspectives.
I am very grateful to have been invited back on stage again this year, where I presented on “What Matters to Retail Banks in 2023”. I began by somewhat jokingly acknowledging that the title of my presentation was a "short version"; in full it would have been: “What matters to retail banks in 2023… other than dealing with the fallout from the SVB plight and finding your way to Finovate during the tube strike in London”. The fast-developing situation with banks was impossible to ignore, and the audience was keen to hear Chris Skinnner’s thoughts on this in the last-minute addition to the agenda. Also, the event’s location (near O2 Arena) made it rather difficult to get to without the tube, but impressively that didn’t deter people at all – the desire to network and learn from each other was palpable and the room was buzzing.
It’s also interesting to reflect back on how over the years the mix of demoing companies has been changing. It started with a clear focus on startup fintechs, then a few years later had quite a few solutions from large established companies, and now back to early-stage firms again. Also, in the early days of Finovate, at least a third of the firms were in payments; this year, I only saw one company which shared their Request to Pay (RTP) solution. By the way, while that solution itself was elegant, I thought that a different use case would have been more powerful – paying the bill at the restaurant via RTP didn’t quite resonate, at least with those in the audience from the UK. Finally, we used to see lots of end-user propositions – apps and solutions aimed directly at consumers and businesses, hoping to solve their financial challenges. Those days are gone, and the vast majority of demoing companies are now B2B, hoping to catch the attention of banks in the audience.
For me, a couple of demos stood out that showed how banks can gain knowledge and tools to improve their propositions – perhaps not surprisingly, a topic close to my heart as a research analyst. FinTech Insights by Scientia shared its competitive analysis tool for banks and fintechs that offers data on customer experience journeys and specific recommendations on what is best-in-class. NayaOne demoed its technology that enables financial institutions to accelerate their digital transformation with single-key access to 200+ fintechs to discover, evaluate, and scale new solutions to production. Both these firms were among the Best of Show winners. Incidentally, Celent clients can learn more about NayaOne’s platform in our recently published Solution Brief.
Other demos and hot discussion topics included: ESG and addressing related data challenges; helping banks manage compliance and regulation; embedded finance and other partnerships; digital transformation and dealing with the legacy, either by migrating to next gen solutions, or by orchestrating customer experiences with low code platforms.
Surprises? Metaverse got more stage time than I expected, while I’ve not heard many discussions on the impact of ChatGPT and other large language models. Having said that, we did have a number of thought-provoking sessions with excellent speakers that took us outside of pure financial services realm and challenged out thinking. I was particularly impressed with the sessions with John C. Hulsman, a political risk expert, and with Elise Bohan from Oxford University, who discussed our journey into the ‘transhuman’ era. While their topics were quite different, they both highlighted the risks of blind spots and our tendency to see things as we would like to see them, rather than as they are, and invited us to probe the areas we are most scared to look at and to take bold decisions if necessary. Of course, it was also a great reminder - if one was needed - that our industry is not an island and is hugely influenced by broader geopolitical, societal, and technology developments.
Once again, thank you to FinovateEurope 2023 for having me, see you next year!