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Innovate Finance Global Summit 2017: The world’s leading fintech conference

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On 10th -11th April 2017, Go4Venture attended Innovate Finance’s Global Summit in Guildhall, host to a stunning array of speakers and exhibitioners. In the weeks to follow, we’ll be publishing plenty of content focused around individual talks and topics but for now here’s a summary of the event and a barometer on the Fintech space!

Innovate Finance is the world’s premier consortium of FinTech companies, many of which feature on the Go4Venture research platform. See charts below produced from Go4Venture’s HTI data.

Lawrence Wintermeyer kicked off the session with intent, guiding us to be cautiously optimistic about the world after Trump, populism and Brexit. Mark Boleat welcomed us back to the Guildhall yet another year running. I was impressed by how much of the conference was then devoted to the question of ethics in FinTech. It was clear that the focus of many speakers was on the ability and the duty for attendees to genuinely improve lives through their work.

Throughout the various talks, there was evidence of action that indicated this was not just lip service. James O’Riordan outlined the actions that Deloitte was taking to drive technology that empowered, rather than overwhelmed the people using it, citing of Adam Smith’s broken promise that our workweeks would dwindle as technology advanced. He left us with a rousing quote by Beckett which will be known to many in our industry: “Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.”.

Nick Ogden showed us where the challenges lay in making financial services cheap enough to provide to the currently unbanked and underbanked. It is worth noting that his solution to this problem, the first new clearing bank in the UK in 250 years, grew out of following up conversations from exactly this type of conference. Mark Barnett outlined Mastercard‘s work on financial inclusion of an entire quarter of the world’s 2 billion unbanked.

Then came the fireside chat with Sir Tim Berners Lee. It is humbling to hear the person who invented the medium in which you work describe his plans for it. He reminded us of what the internet was designed as: an open read-write information system given as a gift to all humanity, and warned us of the dangers of the notion that AI would come and fix everything. But more on that in a later article.

On a parallel thread, the panel on globalisation with Chandran Nair and Phillippe Legrain offered a much-needed impetus to rethink our current economic system. Nair encouraged us to build FinTech that, instead of perpetuating a cycle of environmentally and socially disastrous conspicuous consumption inherently centred on the West, genuinely uplifted the most underserved people of a global society.

This call to action was heeded in part by Paul Killik, David Halpern and Ben Stanway in their discussion on using behavioural psychology meshed with technology to encourage savings habits by consumers, as well as by members of an alternative funding session.

As we moved past the keynote speeches the topics became more diverse. Ilyas Khan made it clear that commercial quantum computing was coming this business cycle and concordantly how critical it was for fintech, especially core banking systems, to be quantum-ready. We discovered the key trends in FinTech from players up and down the investment gamut: deep infrastructural technologies and AI, as well as InsurTech. Tim Levine from Augmentum really highlighted that the information just isn’t easily available for any non-specialist interested in investing past seed stage. During the same session chaired by Matteo Rizzi, we heard from SVB China‘s Oscar Jazdowski on how dominant the Chinese giants like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent were in financial technology.

The siderooms and crypts of guildhall were also abuzz with specialised breakout sessions. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation chaired a panel on the technology needed to include the world’s 2 billion not served by financial institutions. Prophet gathered three FinTech entrepreneurs and Santander Innoventures for an insightful session on relevance to, and love for, the user.

Three companies each across the eight categories of distributed ledger, financial inclusion, cybersec, cross-border payments, P2P/alternative funding, RegTech, personal finance and AI put forward impressive pitches for the Pitch360 competition. In the end it was GuardSquare that took the £10,000 prize for its multilayer security technology that protects the vast majority of Android applications on the market.

Overall it was an inspiring and emboldening two days. FinTech is surging ahead, making a difference not just to core systems of the financial infrastructure but to individuals and small businesses. We look forward to putting out more focus pieces on the most impressive talks and exhibitors.

The Go4Venture Team

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