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The FinTech Chemist: FinTech Grows Up at FinovateFall

Studying the properties and composition that make up the FinTech ecosystem

Welcome to this week’s industry analysis with the FinTech Chemist. While I may not be literally mixing solutions and preparing reagents, I am studying and testing out the latest and greatest in FinTech. This week, MEDICI descended upon FinovateFall in the Big Apple: and mixing FinTech and New York City makes for a unique concoction. So, what did we discover at this event?

After speaking with, and watching several demoing companies, one theme was very clear: FinTech is growing up. AI, security, savings, payment systems, and wealth management were hot topics again this year, but all these categories have drastically evolved. Greg Palmer, Vice President of Finovate, stated, “I like to group these into a broader category of FinTech, though, which I call “grown-up FinTech.” Innovations in this larger category essentially boil down to helping end-users act more responsibly and manage aspects of their finances that they’ve ignored until now. The real challenge with “grown-up FinTech” usually has less to do with the technology itself, and more to do with getting people to change their habits. For most users, it takes some shock or anomaly to spur a behavior change. The irony, of course, is that by the time this sort of shift occurs, it’s usually too late. Creating and sticking to a budget is far more valuable if you do it before you’re deep in credit card debt; talking with your parents about their end-of-life plans and their finances is much more fruitful while they’re still vibrant and healthy; and adding security features like two-factor authentication (or even simply updating your password routinely) is way more effective before you get hacked.”

I chatted with several startups, and they all agreed that we now live in an era where data is the new gold. Companies are eager to track consumer behavior to prevent fraud, create better experiences, and even predict what people are likely to do and when they’re likely to do it. This is the case for a startup called InterGen Data. Everyone knows the saying “life happens.” We all plan as much as we can, but always expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to something as sensitive as financials. But, what if your bank, or financial advisor, or even insurance company could help you prepare for those intangible moments? I spoke with Robert Kirk, CEO & Founder of InterGen Data, to hear how his company is helping people leverage the moments that matter. (Video to follow soon!) In short, InterGen builds AI-driven technology that helps companies identify when their clients are likely to have an important life event occur (buying a house, having a child, failing health of a parent, etc.) – including what that event could be and how much of a financial impact that it could represent.

Another stand out was ALTR, which is on a mission to prove digital trust can be achieved through their data security platform. ALTR offers the most advanced data governance and protection technology on the market. I caught up with their CEO, Dave Sikora, who explained a new concept: programmable data security. Using a smart database driver or API that serves as a single integration point, ALTR makes it possible for development teams to place security into the critical path of data and handoff management of governance and protection policy to security and compliance teams. Further supported by private blockchain to provide integrity to data access auditing and protected data itself, it is a completely portable approach that neutralizes data access risks.

Finally, at Finovate, Fortress Identity announced a term called “compound biometrics.” Their main focus has been around voice identification. Voiceprint analysis is particularly effective and fast at confirming that users are who they claim to be. Their voice biometric identification engine can match one-to-one or one-to-many in under 1.5 seconds and at a rate of 30,000 per second. Alessandro Chiarini, CEO of Fortress Identity, said, “By itself, voice is the next revolution of biometric identification from passwords and tokens in securing access to sensitive systems, data, and physical locations. Every individual’s voiceprints are unique. Employing voice-based authentication gives organizations a higher degree of security, combined with ease of use for their customers. Although voice is strong, combining it with other biometric identification methods, such as facial recognition, fingerprints, and behavioral biometrics, can make it nearly unexploitable. Organizations can now fine-tune the solution that best meets their security requirements and desired user experience.” Fortress has its sights set on the retail space by revolutionizing how consumers pay for goods and services. Instead of tap-to-pay or swipe-to-pay, the goal is to just “show up” and pay. “Once the cashier checks out your items, and the checkout station identifies you, your account asks you to recite a word or phrase, and you’re done.” No fumbling for cash or cards. Simple. Secure. Fast.” And we all know how much I love discovering new compounds!

Needless to say, there was no shortage of innovation at Finovate, and it was encouraging to see that the FinTech ecosystem is truly maturing. Now, onto my next scientific… I mean FinTech hypothesis adventure. And, as always, remember to take your vitamins!

Read the previous edition of The FinTech Chemist.

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