FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

Guest post – Leeds 2018 conference summary by FinTech journalist Bird Lovegod.

Perhaps it was the welcoming effect of the North, or maybe the times are a-changing a little, but the recent FinTech North in Leeds, the first of three events, had a distinctly … human feel to it.

Even before lunch the following subjects were bounced into the auditorium.

FinTech envoy Chris Seir concluded the 9.40am panel conversations regarding ICOs by stating he personally wouldn’t invest in anything ICO backed, on the basis of lack of faith in them. An understandable sentiment in an unregulated market, with a cross section of offerings ranging from totally legit to totally not. Anna Wallace, Innovate Head of Department, from the FCA commented the ones most likely to succeed will be the ones closest to the spirit of regulation. She’s probably accurate in this assessment, closeness to the spirit of regulation being a reasonable indicator of integrity, authenticity, and intended longevity. A sentiment that lead eloquently to the next conversation.

Innovation from within (and the nature of trust) initiated by Fergus Murphy, Group Customer Service Director of CYBG.

The nutshell of the challenge for this challenger bank is to encourage its customers to trust the app enough to give it information about their lives, which in turn enables a wider spread of services to be delivered through secondary providers. This virtuous cycle of trust, which in turn encourages engagement, the experience of which reinforces trust, is in some respects the Holy Grail of customer acquisition and service.

Innovation, accessibility, speed. These are, apparently, what customers want. Their trust, that’s what their providers want, and earning it, that’s a mission without end.

Was there a meeting before the event where everyone co-ordinated their stories? I only ask because next in line was Tom Riordan, Chief Exec of Leeds City Council speaking about the human side of FinTech and again, the issue of trust. It’s heartening to hear these conversations being raised. Frequently finance avoids potentially difficult territories of the humanitarian consequences of its actions and inactions. The banking crisis was a disaster not for the bankers, but for the millions of people obliged to spend the next decade or two in ‘austerity’, a climate of belt tightening and involuntary but governmentally enforced poverty. Bailing the banks out has birthed a generation of children whose life chances are forever lessened. Money comes before people in this world, even as we know this should not be so, and stifled life has a price that can be measured in sterling and dollars prioritised elsewhere.

Technology has been known to attempt to address these issues, but again, only if the bottom line in financial terms is satisfactory. The Ebola epidemic crisis was halted through the brief prioritisation of human life over financial considerations, as pharmaceutical companies temporarily co-operated and applied themselves to the humanitarian problem. Imagine what would happen if finance companies did the same. End of World poverty mate. A whole new world. Just saying.

Speaking of new worlds, at 11.30am we enjoyed a presentation on Innovation in AI from Stuart Sherman, CEO of IMC.

A convincing and amusing case study of analytics presented Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne in the same boat, and mixing metaphors into crouching tigers and hidden data with elephants in the room. The conclusion was that innovation is not what everyone else is doing, continuing with the latent data / hidden data descriptors including the folly of forecasting from observed actions and the risk of being a turkey if one does.

Motivations underneath actions, this is the important thing to understand, apparently, and doubtless Sun Tzu would sagely nod in agreement, although perhaps he would question the plausibility of artificial intelligence understanding you rather than the data, but that’s a new article in waiting right there.

To be continued next episode you financial technology fans.


Bird Lovegod


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