Held in London, the Finovate Europe event is one of the most exciting fintech gatherings in the world. With 60 demos covering the best new innovations on the planet, it’s an amazing place to spot the next big thing in the industry. Here are our five ones to watch.
1. Money (micro)management
One of the most interesting ideas to come out of today’s event is a new approach to personal financial management that helps users to balance immediate purchases with long term plans.
Evry looked at this in the context of students and other cash-strapped individuals, through an app called Spendific that connects to the person’s bank account, takes into account bills and unavoidable outgoings, then tells them what’s left to spend, updating in real time as they make payments or withdraw money from accounts.
Meanwhile, Moneyhub approached this with more complexity, looking at long term gains like buying a house or retiring at a certain age, then allowing users to move money between different funds to visually assess how this impacts on each of their goals. For example, you can compare the result of using your bonus for a flash family holiday this year or putting it into retirements savings, to find that the latter will allow you to retire 200 days earlier than your finances currently allow.
While at present these tools are primary focussed on the individual, the functionality could easily be extended into corporate finance mechanisms, helping companies to compare how different types of investments might impact on short and long term goals. By making the future strikingly present, they make ideas about spending and saving feel exciting and engaging, helping customers and companies to feel empowered over their finances.
2. Pre-emptive security
Data security is a big, big issue, and it’s no surprise that companies are trying a plethora of new ways to tackle it.
Internet security giants Akamai are approaching the problem by harnessing their extensive internet presence to identify which hackers are the most dangerous and in what ways, then adding their details to websites so that they can be automatically blocked if they come anywhere close. Similarly, Mistral, the brainchild of ex-Nokia directors, has developed a mobile banking app that scans the user’s entire phone for potential risks, investigating new apps as they are downloaded and analysing any potentially threatening activity to make sure that they are kept safe from hack attacks.
The customer-facing LockMyMobile takes a wonderfully straightforward approach to the security issue by allowing users to “lock” cards using a mobile app. This means that payments in person or online will only go through when the user has unlocked them with a swipe on the app – a great system, but one which could result in disaster if you can’t get onto the internet, your mobile has been stolen, or for those of us that regularly let our phones run out of charge! The app can also be used by firms to to control access to, or limit spending on, company credit cards.
More directly relevant to Treasury functions is Jumio’s latest development in this area, a know-your-customer system that keeps a database of the ID paperwork and documentation required by each country, then implements a clever verification system that allows new customers to upload these from home. This could involve, for example, a UK citizen taking a photograph of their driving license alongside a “selfie” video to prove this isn’t stolen – blinking five times in the process to demonstrate that they are really present, and are not just snapping a photograph.
When fewer than a third of applicants actually complete the in-store signup process for new accounts, such measures are seen as a great way to tackle the low onboarding rate by making things more straightforward, while also adhering to strict security regulations. Since measures include readers that check the validity of a hologram or background design, it seems safe to trust the veracity of Jumio’s system – and their approach could help to dramatically boost new customer sigh-ups by making the process far more convenient.
3. Personalised video
Video is a serious social media buzzword, and now it’s made its way into fintech, too. Mapps demonstrated a compelling alternative to stuffy PDFs, showing off a real-time video building device that lets you add voiceover and graphics to capture a client’s attention, while Crealogix went a step further, incorporating video-based advice and follow up messages into a wider dashboard that can be used by financial advisers to communicate with new customers.
In both examples, though, it’s important to remember that the product will only be as good as the producer. The tools are there to make engaging video – and people really do love engaging video – but there’s no guarantee that what you’re making will be any good, if you lack the visual eye to make it work. If you’re looking to incorporate video to share ideas internally or with clients, kudos to you. Just make sure that you’re keeping the quality as high as you can afford, and that you’re creating something that you yourself would actually want to watch.
4. Clever, integrated dashboards
Today’s Finovate saw a dramatic shift towards platforms that not only combine myriad sources of information, but which are intuitive and visually exciting to use.
For mBank and i3D, this meant Minority Report-style screens that use facial recognition and elaborate targeted and retargeted advertising to build a custom display for every person that passes by, offering them all kinds of financial products and retail offers to add value to their banking experience.
CPB Software, which is aimed at financial advisers, has created a fantastic app that draws together information about an individual’s investment portfolio and behaviour with wider industry markers, risks and “stress test” scenarios to help investors give detailed, personalised advice that is backed up with dynamic graphs, charts and other visual representations of information. Next, which is pitched directly at individual investors, has taken this a step further by allowing people to follow and imitate “trading coaches”, who put out advice about selecting the best investments. This information is combined into a single interface, allowing users to track and analyse their financial choices and outcomes as the go.
Perhaps the most exciting example of this from a Treasury perspective, however, was KPAX’s latest innovation. The company has created a platform that handles complex reconciliation activities, taking in information from different sources such as CSV files and SWIFT data and aggregating the data into a standardised format so that treasurers can quickly see which clashes are genuine, and which were simply the result of formatting disparities.
Given that SWIFT is a tricky format to work with, and one that can create myriad problems for those responsible for reconciliation tasks, this really does represent a breakthrough. As the team demonstrated, the system replaces processes that can take hours, days or even weeks with one that takes a matter of seconds, and costs about 50p each time to run.
5. Scrapping bank fees on overseas payments
Finally, a unique idea put forward by Revolut is likely to go down very well with well-travelled finance professionals and accounting departments alike. Inspired by a trip to Las Vegas that resulted in a $12,000 bill and a further $2,000 in bank fees, the company’s flagship product aims to cut out bank fees entirely for payments made overseas.
The idea is that money is uploaded to an app that converts it into the required currency using the interbank rate – the best currency conversion rate available at that moment. Users are then issued with a payment card that is accepted just about everywhere, but which, rather than linking back to their bank account, takes money from the currency-neutral account, paying in the local currency wherever they are.
Cardholders don’t need to remember their IBAN number, they can quickly transfer money to friends and colleagues via Whatsapp or text if needs be, and if they misplace their card they can block it within the app and unblock it if it turns up later. This is an incredibly simple approach to card payments across international borders, keeping costs down while removing forex headaches for companies that constantly deal with, or travel to, global markets. Exciting stuff.
If you’re as excited about fintech as we are, make sure you don’t miss the upcoming Fintech Innovation Awards. Details below.
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