On October 18–19th, the LTP Team had the pleasure attending one of the most important events in the world of finances and beyond – FinDEVr 2016 in Silicon Valley. A powerful blend of some of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies and bright entrepreneurs from around the world made the conference an exceptional pleasure to attend as the audience can gather insights on the latest advancements in the financial services industry.
With dual-track presentations starting at 10 AM, the event had quite a packed schedule with short intermissions for attendants to network, watch demos and pitch to potential partners, clients or investors, etc. Similar to the previous year’s conference, the hallmark of FinDEVr 2016 has been its orientation towards the tech audience — developers, CTOs, people who build things, etc. In that regard, FinDEVr offers a unique experience as it brings people that usually stay at the back office emphasized the stage.
Even though the hallmark of the event as developer-oriented has been preserved, in comparison to FinDEVr 2015, this years’ conference can be characterized by a shift in company profiles. In 2016, substantial attention has been paid to RegTech (KYC), data analytics, AI/machine learning, digital identity/authentication/security, APIs, open-source innovation and, of course, blockchain. FinDEVr 2015 has been more about payments, alternative lending, cryptocurrency and banking technology among other things. Some of the companies the LTP Team has met previous year have been present in 2016 – Hyperwallet, Lleida.net, BankGuard, Worldpay and others.
Let's go through some of the interesting presenters that attended FinDEVr 2016 and have been pushing forward innovation in the hottest segments in FinTech.
APIs-related presentations have been some of the most important and have gathered significant audience this year. FinDEVr 2016 has almost turned into an API festival as Envestnet by Yodlee, Alloy, DriveWealth, Hyperwallet, BBVA, Tango Card and Marqeta have dedicated attention and effort to building insanely useful APIs for the developers and business community.
BBVA API Market has been one of the most exciting parts of the API discourse with the concept of the banking of the future – ‘APIfied’ bank. Shamir Karkal, the Head of Open Platform at BBVA, demonstrated how the Spanish bank transformed its capabilities to be able to support a full customer-facing bank purely based on financial APIs that are leveraging the established and firm capabilities of a solid bank.
Shamir Karkal (Head of Open Platform, BBVA Compass) & Diego Blanco (Head of PaaS & Open Platform CTO, BBVA Compass)
Another interesting case with leveraging APIs is Tango Card, which offers Rewards-as-a-Service (RaaS) API to make the incentive portion of reward and incentive programs easy. The company has developed a Reward Delivery Program (RDP) to allow businesses to streamline all processes around e-gift cards, prepaid cards, digital checks, PayPal payments and donations.
Moving further, on to the matter of a reliable digital identity, which in recent years has become an increasingly important topic as financial services are becoming as democratized as they have never been before. The idea of a universal, tamper-proof digital identity becomes increasingly relevant also in the face of political, economic and other uncertainties around the world. Massive groups of the global population are undocumented nowadays with numbers growing at a blink of an eye. In fact, some estimates suggest that there are more than 232 million undocumented migrants internationally.
Kyckr has demonstrated how a corporate identity blockchain can enable enterprises to quickly and easily build robust applications that address the challenges of establishing provenance, authentication and reconciliation. During the presentation, the company showed that by creating an encrypted digital identity for a corporation, while offering greater security features, can save enterprises, institutions, governments and customers significant time and money.
Trusted Digital Identities: IdentityMind Global presentation
A reliable digital identity cannot be looked at separately from the topic of cybersecurity, which has also attracted substantial attention this year. Almost the same players – IdentityMind Global, Alloy, Kyckr, Entrust Datacard, BankGuard – have been presenting solutions aimed to enhance opportunities for digital financial services without compromising the security.
IdentityMind Global has presented its on-demand platform that provides real-time risk management and compliance automation for FinTech companies, traditional banks and online merchants around the world. The company’s Identity Graph Intelligence uncovers complex risk and money laundering scenarios in real time by applying big data analysis to the correlation of a digital entity’s identity attributes, transactions and behaviors. The complexity of the identity graph (diversity, depth and reputation) has a strong correlation to the risk of a transaction – the more complex the graph, the higher the risk.
A reliable digital identity and cybersecurity go hand in hand with advanced authentication technology based on biometrics. SpeechPRO, a company offering a multimodal mobile biometric authentication solution, has been among innovators working to enhance the security of cross-industry solutions with biometrics. The company’s products are deployed to over 74 countries. SpeechPRO’s core expertise is speech recognition and text-to-speech, audio recording, forensic audio analysis, noise cancellation (audio enhancement) and biometrics (authentication, identification and verification).
NuData Security has demonstrated its flagship product NuDetect – a behavioral biometrics platform that monitors behavioral interactions. The platform accurately verifies users based on unconscious natural behaviors. It can detect most forms of account-based automated, anomalous and fraudulent online behavior. NuDetect builds upon an architecture of four distinct technologies: device, connection and location; behavioral analytics; real-time entity linking; and behavioral biometric identification, to build a user profile. This profile is used to provide a continuous and near-perfect identification of the user, in real-time.
It is needless to dig deep into the topic of blockchain-powered solutions as the distributed ledger technology remains an important part of innovative initiatives. Probably one of the most exciting presentations was given by IBM, which invited developers to contribute and together leverage the opportunities presented by the Hyperledger project.
Stefania Kaczmarczyk (Technical Evangelist, IBM)
The engaging and insightful presentation by Stefania Kaczmarczyk, Technical Evangelist at IBM, emphasized the importance and role of the Hyperledger project for collaborative innovation and explained what the project meant for the industry and why blockchain is ideal for more than just securities all while live deploying chain code using IBM’s Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS).
PwC has also emphasised the importance and benefits of blockchain application in the presentation. The company shared how blockchain technology can positively transform business processes where current state pain points exist between multiple market participants.
For example, improving the business process of Trade Finance operations to support the movement of services, goods and capital, specifically for a standby letter of credit, could represent a paradigm shift to market participants. To validate this hypothesis, the company conducted a blockchain-based proof of value (“PoV”) for SBLC with a technology partner.
During the presentation, PwC called developers attention to the fact that blockchain is not appropriate to solve every business problem and encouraged them to choose the right tool for the job. PwC suggests that its SBLC smart contract helps to promote cloud as a catalyst for facilitating immutable and secure data sharing, viewing, and process execution amongst multiple participants.
Customer experience enhancement has brought quite an interesting company to Silicon Valley. ABBYY has attracted our attention as one of the most experienced players with advanced OCR technology implementation to make personal budgeting and any sort of document/expense tracking frictionless. ABBYY products identify text, language, data and relationships while transforming context into meaningful data. ABBYY solutions optimize mortgage processing, new account openings, accounts payable, accounts receivable, proof of identity, and proof of income solutions for leading global financial institutions.
Derek Gerber (Product Marketer, ABBYY), Khoi Le (Developer, ABBYY) & Katsuya Ideno (Product Manager, Star Cloud Services)
Overall, the experience of FinDEVr 2016 was largely filled by the great idea of open innovation and advantages of collaborative efforts of developers to enhance open-source solutions. Although FinTech is a highly competitive environment, customer experience and journey along with seamless experience has been put at the center of attention. This year’s conference could be considered a milestone in a shift of attention from proprietary solutions to the concept of open innovation and the importance of APIs in building superior solutions.