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Innovations in Banking, as demonstrated by #finovate

Finovate launched its first European show yesterday with over 400 attendees and 35 presentations from firms covering the whole gamete of financial services from investing to payments, personal financial management (a load of that!) to biometrics.


Photo courtesy of Flickr: An Attentive Audience

Eric Mattson and Jim Bruene of NetBanker asked me to host and kick off this year's show, commencing with seven minutes of what I felt was key to innovation this year.


Photo courtesy of Flickr: Watch Out For The Hand!

This short opening focused upon four themes: connectivity, user experience, security and data leverage.

Connectivity is all about mobile today, with mobile devices and now tablets booming across the world. This has led to innovations around payments particularly, with M-PESA, Bump and Square being a few examples. Equally, we’re all now excited about NFC connectivity via next generation Android and Apple systems.

But connectivity is not focused upon devices, it’s focused upon chips.

Chip-enabled connectivity between handsets and tablets, cars and bars, people and products is what it’s all about.

Soon, you’ll be able to touch your TV screen to purchase the products advertised; point at a poster to download the tune; and wave at a whiteboard to draw our presentation.

These wirelessly connected services that are all chip-embedded enable you to wirelessly communicate 24*7, and that wireless ubiquity is the real challenge for the future, not just delivering mobile devices.

This is being illustrated by the developments in customer experience, as banks focus upon new ways to think about how services can be delivered and accessed.

Originally, we started with proprietary bank portals for internet banking for example. I always remember Barclays internet banking service, where you had to install their CD to get started.

Maybe that was a good idea in these days of cyberhacking, but such approaches soon changed as firms such as Bank of America proved leadership in online banking with over 25 million users.

Then we moved to mobile banking, with banks looking at apps to deliver a better touch-screen experience on the iPhone.

And now we have new services such as BBVA’s Compass, which is an iPad-specific bank app for improved service through the touchscreen.

This device-specific development of bank apps is not the way to go – we want platform neutral developments – but the continual development of improved apps for the user experience will be a major source of focus for the next few years.

But all these developments of cool apps for chip-enabled connectivity are all well and good, but undermined by cyberhacking.

The criminal fraternity have all recognised that the firewalled internet banking service has become hard to crack, but the wild west of smartphone apps is a great hunting ground for usernames, account numbers and passwords.

For example, the world’s most popular smartphone gaming apps, such as Angry Birds, routinely collect information about your profile and share this with third parties unbeknownst to the user.

Such practise and exposures in mobile security will be a big area of focus for innovation in finance over the next year or two.

Finally, data leverage is a major battleground.

I recently blogged about this, so won’t say much more, except that analysing customer behaviours in minutiae for fraud and service delivery will be a major differentiator in a banks’ ability to gain business.

So there you have the four themes for innovation this year: mobile and chip-enabled connectivity, user experience, security and data leverage.

These four themes played out through the 35 presentations at Finovate Europe, which I’ll blog more about later.

Nevertheless, as an opening, it surprised me a little as to how much these four themes formed the backbone of the conference this year throughout the day.

And, for those who could not attend, check out the #finovate hashtag on Twitter … you’ll get all you need to know.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here…

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