By Paul Armstrong for Forbes
It was a strange day at Wired Money last week. Brexit was looming and a decidedly uneasy feeling was in the air amongst both speakers and delegates alike. Several of the startups speaking and in attendance were sad due to being forced to suspend business and trading because of the financial uncertainty the next 24 hours was going to bring. The mood fluctuated between speakers to either extreme concern or coolness because their technology was made for uncertainty like this or because it could be crushed by it. A stark reminder while we are seeing a new day in the finance industry, we haven’t even finished breakfast yet.
From companies that can get you a loan in seven minutes (Kabbage) to a slew of what I call “money movers” who are utilising blockchain technology, crowdfunding VC, APIs, Facebook Messenger, AI and mobile payment systems to empower multiple nations not just developing ones. The issues remain the same; old powerful banks, compliance, closed protocols, antiquated banking practices and legacy hertitage of protectionist “big beasts”.
I was glad to see insurance getting its own section this year as I have long said this is one industry that needs to get agile and simplify to avoid major disruption. Knip (app-based digital insurance), The Floow (telematics) and Guervara (peer-to-peer insurance) all spoke on being agile and understanding insurance before breaking it. Epiphyte CEO Eden Yago spoke about enabling higher visibility in international transactions, while his online system isn’t to do with insurance it is “riskless, basically instantaneous and very, very cheap.” The same needs to, and will, happen to insurance.
Some takeaways from Wired Money:
1) Digital banking needs a bigger trust intervention more than offline banks
Trust was a big theme last year, in fact there was a more human…everything… this year. A real focus on user experience, customer service and helping outcomes not just transactions or the technology has been triggered. The potential is there but the dots are not being drawn – this is a core need for true disruption to occur. Sadly this is unlikely to come in more developed markets until international issues are resolved. IMPORTANT FOR: customer services reps, experience designers, advertising, marketing, community outreach managers
2) The end result is more and more key to success
Banking at its heart enables people to do things – some are important and others are less urgent but all are important for different reasons. The new slew of startups seemed to agree on one thing more than the big boys; what the technologies available can enable is worth more to customers than bells and whistles with deals etc. IMPORTANT FOR: marketers, UI/UX, experience manager.
3) Bitcoin is 10% of the solution, the best is yet to come…
Whether it is anti-fraud through AI and machine learning (Feedzai is a company to kep your eye on) or instantly sending mobile payments directly to the recipient via blockchain technology – there’s a lot still to come that we haven’t seen from Fintech. As said by Mattias Kröner from Fidor Bank “Fintech is disruptive because it’s not used by a mass market.” This sentiment was echoed in break-out sessions from Valtech and other speakers. Bitcoin has a lot of hype (and potential) but until the consumer understanding increases and the jargon is reduced and simplified the same issues and adoption will be seen. IMPORTANT FOR: big banks, small banks, disruptor banks, start-ups, brands and consumers.
First appeared at Forbes