The financial innovation ‘Finovate’ Europe 2014 trade show came to London today with lots of technology firms from start-ups like Excess Return and five degrees, to more established players like GMC Software or IND - which has just been bought out by Misys - all pitching their ideas, new products or apps in a bid to strike it rich, while simultaneously hoping to avoid the planned tube strike in the UK capital, reports bobsguide’s Neil Ainger. While the evening’s planned transport strike was subsequently called off, whether firms obtained the other more desirable ‘strike’ of winning investment money from the audience of bankers, venture capitalists and others with their Dragon’s Den style pitches, remains to be seen with the winners due to be announced at the conclusion of the show tomorrow.
The fourth Finovate Europe show, held at Old Billingsgate market in the City of London on 11 February today, was bigger than in previous years with a sell-out crowd in excess of 1,000 people gathering to hear 36 different pitches from a selection of different companies, with more financial technology firms to follow tomorrow on the second concluding day. All the participating firms in this event, which originated in Silicon Valley in the US, came with the intent to showcase their innovative new offerings and win contracts, support money, or partnership agreements. As in previous years, it was mainly a collection of firms offering mobile channel apps, payment solutions or core banking integration links, with lots of Personal Finance Management (PFM) tools for retail or professional investors, and document capture back office processing technology, with some information security and ID verification technologies.
Starting proceedings on the first morning was Plutus Software with its KreditAja.com product, which is a credit scoring system for the emerging markets personal loans sector, with the Singaporean-based chief executive officer (CEO) ‘pitcher’ Aidil Zulkifli, describing it on stage, during his seven minute presentation, as “money supermarket 2.0”.
In keeping with many of the other presenters, the KreditAja.com pitchers wore suits, and there was much less ‘cool kid’ woollen jumpers, beards and start-up fashion chic than in previous years, as presenters bid for serious investment money, or in the case of the next presenters, Device Ident, contracts for their fraud analytics software product Frida.
From Spain came Pixeliris, prophesising the bright future of a mobile contactless payment (MCP) app for peer-to-peer (P2P) and in-store or online transactions that they have developed to use “sonic waves to authorise payments; not magnetic waves like near field communication (NFC) MCP apps,” explained CEO, Emmanuel Ruiz. I cannot see too many people hanging around to wait for a sonic wave authorisation in a shop, however, as consumers would presumably rather tap and go. But, that said, the point of the Finovate is to offer your wares and see if it gains traction with the investment hungry audience, so the show’s end tomorrow - and the weeks and months afterwards - will decide what scales up and what doesn’t.
Other interesting pitches throughout the day came from Kofax highlighting how their technology can “turn a mobile device into a branch” by effectively turning smartphones into document capture devices, and from Jumio, with its Netverify ID and know your customer (KYC) compliance solution, plus GMC Software with its customer comms and back-office processing solutions.
Perhaps the most entertaining presentation of the day came from IND, which quickly swapped its company logo over to Misys in the morning following yesterday’s confirmation of its sale to Misys, and delivered a fun seven minute role-playing pitch featuring a dad, grandfather and a stereotypical spoiled teenager who wanted to use her mobile phone for P2P payments to friends, while 'dad' wanted to be able to check the family finances on the vendor’s bank white-labelled mobile m-banking PFM software. ‘Granddad’ meanwhile rebuked both for thinking that older customer didn’t get mobile payments, account monitoring, m-commerce or the evolving mobile channel. The audience reaction suggested the Hungarian presenters and developers at IND might be getting a lot of votes come the end of the show.
Speaking to bobsguide afterwards Balazs Vinnai, general manager of the new Misys digital channels unit, and the ex-CEO of IND before the recent takeover deal, said: “The Essence PFM tool we’re showing here today at Finovate Europe is about allying functionality with transactional capabilities. That is what we want to do and we've done it for lots of bank clients, such as UBS.”
Vox Pop: Show Reaction Quotes
According to Michael Dooijes, CEO of the MyOrder mobile app, which is 80% owned by Rabobank, and can be used to pay for parking, cinema tickets and other such m-commerce end uses in the Netherlands, “the financial industry needs to embrace disruption, accept new business models and move away from the transactional mindset, otherwise they potentially face becoming a utility-like provider with no value-adding high end customer data." He thinks Finovate can help put banks in touch with firms such as his that can lead banks on this journey away from the transactional mindset and instead embrace disruptive technology, which is why he attended the event today in London.
Martijn Hohmann, CEO of five degrees, a company that offers a universal banking in the cloud solution and an on-boarding service to customise it to whatever market’s legal and operational requirements are desired, was at the show to network. “There are lots of people here, which tells me something about the appetite of banks too; it’s not just about looking at profit and loss (P+L) but future-gazing too,” he said. The veteran of three previous Finovate shows also commented that, “people are better prepared, smarter and with more polished with their demonstrations than in previous years” - an observation that was clear to all long-standing attendees and of note in the battle for 'best in show' votes and investment money.
GMC Software’s Antoine Hemon-Laurens, mobile innovation director, noted that there were a lot of mobility and social network offerings on display at Finovate Europe 2014 and lots of very interesting small players, with innovative products. “But there are very few established players such as ourselves, which have been going for 20 years or more and have major bank clients already,” he added. “It’s great to tap into that energy in the marketplace and be able to join in with our latest developments [centred around document capture and processing tools for bank back offices].”
Drew Hyatt, senior vice president of mobile apps at Kofax, commented that it always amazes him what you don’t know; meaning how educational and useful he found the show. “There are so many niches, and there is always something you can learn here from the wealth of risk management. PFM, payment, and mobile offerings on display.” He’s attended numerous Finovate shows around the world and indeed his firm won the Asian iteration of the show in Singapore last year - one of a few previous winners in attendance - so he is hopeful of winning again this year, in London. The results of the audience voting for the 'best of show' products and pitches will be announced on the Finovate website at the end of the day - and the show’s conclusion - on Wednesday 12 February, so check back then to see the London winners [you can see the subsequent winners' list below].
More Vox Pops: Datamonitor, Encap, ezbob
“I’ve been struck by the number of solutions at Finovate Europe 2014 designed to take customers away from the bank - PFM and remote image capture tools - rather than bring them closer to it,” says Adam Dolby, business development head at Encap Security. “A barrier seems to be forming between the bank and its customer. These kinds of proxys could have a profound effect on customer relations. At this rate the bank of the future won’t be a bank at all.”
It is a point that Kiernan Hines, content director for cards and payments at the Datamonitor consultancy, picks up on, with PFM a massive trend this year. “It is disappointing in some ways to see so many bolt-on PFM tools because it shows how banks have failed to integrate it into their systems,” he says.
According to Tomer Guriel, CEO of ezbob, a UK SME lending platform presenting at the show, Finovate Europe this year has had less foreign exchange (FX) products and payment solutions than it did last year, with more mobile and middle to back-office solutions noticeable in his opinion. “The big trend for me, and I hoped to see it a bit more in evidence today, is big data. Integrating this to give customers' easier and faster access to information is key, as it creates customer loyalty and repeat business. There are some indications of the trend in evidence in London, but I’d like to see more.”
Finovate Europe 2014: Best of Show Winners List
After the show ended and the votes were counted up, Finovate Europe 2014 announced the winning pitches from the 67 presenting companies over two days, based upon audience votes. In alphabetical order they were:
- Backbase - with its out-of-the-box tool for mobile account origination and enrollment.
- BehavioSec - with its behavioral biometrics solution created specifically for a mobile environment.
- Dynamics - for its new Open Loop and Closed Loop card technology.
- Etronika - for its multi-channel partnership ecosystem within BankTron.
- Misys/IND - for its cross-generational digital banking experience.
- Luxoft - for its iStockTrack, an app that gives users a single place to connect with their investment life.
- Tink - for its mobile PFM tool that helps users stay connected with their finaces.
- Toshl - for its quirky PFM that makes finances fun.
- YourWealth - for its MoneyHub technology that gives users total control of their entire financial life.