Finovate Spring 2012 Recap

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Sorry to take a little while to get this posted, but I had an important Mothers Day post to write.

Last week I attended the fifth annual Finovate financial technology conference in San Francisco. This year’s event was the largest yet, with nearly 1200 entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, analysts and FinTech fans experiencing 63 product demos in 2 days. A few trends I noted:

SoMoLo+Big Data= Deals

As usual, there were lots of innovative companies in the payments space, displaying all kinds of creative ways to move dollars and data from wherever they are to wherever you want them to be. The SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) trend is very evident here, and increasingly being mashed up with Big Data to create specialized Deals– merchant funded rewards, targeted offers, digital coupons, customer loyalty programs, geo-rewards, geo-offers, card-linked offers, offer wallets, etc.

Perhaps one of the most customizable is Giftly, which allows you to gift just about anything from anywhere to anyone– your gift becomes a credit on the recipient’s credit card for a place and amount of your choosing. For instance, you can respond to a friend’s check-in at the local pub with a round on you from across the globe. Pretty cool.

Another very customizable card product is the GlobalVCard, which allows you to issue single or limited use MasterCard numbers for ultra-secure payments. Users can even positively or negatively restrict the types of merchant codes allowed (airlines, restaurants, etc.) and/or limited dollar amounts. Simple and effective user interfaces for iPhone and iPad too. Right now it is only available for CSI MasterCard Corporate Card customers.

Crowdsourcing and White Labeling

There were quite a few white label apps, and as my friend and discerning technologist Bradley Leimer noted on his Twitter feed, it underscores the need for a better user experience in online and mobile banking. Some will leverage their handsome design to help asset hungry banks source new loans, with new social criteria mixed into the underwriting, including OnDeck Capital and Best Of Show winner SoMoLend.

The Gamification of Personal Finance

I have written about my tendency to overuse sports analogies before, but Portfolio Football takes it to a whole new level as personal finance and portfolio management principals are gamified, fantasy football style.

Wall Street Survivor takes a more straight-forward approach, and focuses more on stock trading.

PFM and more for the “Overbanked”

There were lots of great solutions to help empower the “underbanked” (even though analyst and Snarketing 2.0 blogger Ron Shevlin says it’s time to retire that term. As readers of this site know, for better or worse, I have spent most of my career working with the other end of the spectrum. I guess I should call them the “overbanked”.

I am usually somewhat rare at events like this, but I actually heard the term “wealth management” uttered from the stage, not once, but twice. Three of the seven Best Of Show winners involved some form of more sophisticated Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools, including impressive offerings from Personal CapitalMoneyDesktop and iQuantifi.

Also relevant for innovative wealth managers were investor insights from DCisions, a social, communications and collaboration platform manager from Actiance, and a very nice client engagement and management platform “designed by financial advisors for financial advisors” by inStream.

If this trend continues, I won’t be as lonely at future events. That will be good for the wealth management business. I’ve often said that our industry too often makes clients choose between great technology or great people. (Actually, Ron Shevlin would probably approve of the much snarkier way I describe it in person, but I won’t write it here.)

We need to deliver both to be truly excellent.

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