Interac recently had the opportunity to use CB Insights for research, and in this process we quickly learned that CB Insight have the word ‘insights’ for a very good reason.
They are focused on taking vast amounts of information and drilling it down to succinct actionable next steps, so when the opportunity came up to attend the CBI Future of FinTech conference, Future of FinTech conference, I felt compelled to attend. From June 19 to 21 in New York City, CB Insights were host to some of the largest financial services companies, technology companies, FinTech startups, and VCs all focused on the Disruption of Financial Services with topics ranging from lending, insurance, ecosystems, AI including machine and deep learning, blockchain, financial and wealth management, etc. In the end the conference provided me with much food for thought and below are three key areas that are worth highlighting.
Theme 1: Do the right thing
Many organizations are in a constant state of conflict – do they do the right thing for the customer or do they do the right thing for their business? As much as many organizations would like to do both, they are faced with the challenge where some of their revenue targets are achieved from penalizing customers. Affirm’s Max Levchin has turned that model upside down where they serve the underserved loans that actually meet their needs. Affirm’s philosophy of building and running an organization that doesn’t benefit from its customers screwing up is the epitome of a customer first approach and one that many organizations can take a page from considering their NPS is at 83. Max Levchin left me truly inspired. This theme particularly resonated with me because financial management and using your real money where, when and for what you want to, is so entrenched with what we do at Interac.
Theme 2: Know your customer
Not in the traditional sense of verifying and authenticating the user and instead I am referring to how organizations such as Ant Financial are focused on creating products and services to help better serve their existing customer base. In 2016, approximately 3M Chinese tourists spent $33B in the US and Alipay processes approximately 250K transactions per second according to Souheil Boudran so their priority continues to remain on serving the needs of the Chinese looking for experiences in and outside of China. Not surprising then that ANT Financial valuation has it at $150B reinforcing the importance of a customer first approach and they do so effectively by investing in technology such as deep learning. Ultimately, the race to zero cost will translate into more competition and innovative solutions that translate into what one speaker put very eloquently as the ‘constant redrawing of competitive lines’ all of which benefits the users with more choice and greater transparency.
Theme 3: Playbooks
CB Insights also had a few sessions on playbooks across financial services and large tech companies and what resonated across these sessions was real life case studies. On the financial services side, how organizations such as Chase and JPMOrgan have partnered with FinTechs to deliver new experiences to their customer base and realized early on that even if they did understand a threat their ability to act on that threat was better served through partnership than trying to do everything in-house. And as one speaker said, organizations must take a customer/employee/shareholder view to balance what is best for their business. On the technology giants side, it was a focus on Amazon where their ability to make the bold moves to try something out without ever knowing whether it will succeed or not is what has translated into them being so fruitful and this has spanned across payments, cash, lending, and insurance. Of course … all easier said than done considering the deep pockets that both large financial services and tech companies have.