This year’s 2018 Empire Startups FinTech Conference in Toronto featured speakers from payments, blockchain, lending, robo-advisors, insurance tech, and more. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the key insights from the Conference, with a focus on the Venture Capital funding and B2B innovators panel.
The Venture Capital Panel
The Venture Capital panel discussed the ways in which FinTech entrepreneurs can partner with VCs to successfully navigate the enterprise space. Investors want to understand what purpose individual FinTech’s serve, and more importantly, why they do it better than any of their competitors. The panelists emphasized how important it is for FinTech’s to stand out in their respective pitches to investors. Nearly unanimously, the panelists understood there to be three main questions FinTech’s should answer in any pitch:
- Why you? And not one of your competitors?
- Why us? This is about the respective VC firm; in order to successfully answer this question, each pitch a FinTech makes must be tailored to the individual VC firm and directed towards that firm’s interests.
- Why now? Investors are looking for why the product or service is essential in the current market space and how a product or service is going to benefit consumers.
The B2B Innovators Panel
Interac’s Kashmera Self, Director of Mobile Product Platform, spoke on the B2B Innovators panel. This panel spoke to the challenges and the opportunities relating to the payments ecosystem, the partnerships between FinTech’s and banks, open banking, and security. The panelists spoke about the necessity for Financial Institutions to adapt a mindset of disruptiveness, leverage their own infrastructure and capabilities, understand the products and services offered by individual FinTech’s, and recognize where both sides can provide support to one another. Alignment between a FinTech and FI is key to forming strategic alliances and recognizing the objectives and interest of both sides.
With respect to the payments ecosystem, the panelists discussed the opportunities for banks to cross borders. Banks and payment services in Canada can begin to do so by integrating an Open Banking system. Since Canada arguably has the most difficult regulatory process, exposing APIs, experimenting with the opportunities that result from it, and learning to exist on multiple platforms will be advantageous for Canadian FinTech’s and Banks to initiate the move to the US. The success of Open Banking over the next few years will largely be dependent on trial and error. FI’s must strike a balance between giving users control over their information and data and maintaining their privacy.
Another key takeaway was determining the biggest challenges FinTech’s face today, which include scaling, war on talent, and creating timelines. Scaling stood out as one of the major challenges due to the barriers and restrictions that make it difficult across the ecosystem to grow in the FinTech space. As in every industry, there is a major war on talent. Companies are competing more than ever in the FinTech space to find, keep, and retain talent. Investing more in HR and talent search will help FinTech’s be more competitive and ultimately lead to long-term growth. Additionally, targeting investors, creating timelines of sales or contracts, and bringing them up to speed can be difficult for FinTech’s since they often operate at a much faster pace than any other FI.
Lastly, the panelists discussed today’s most pressing topics with respect to financial services and payments. Over the next few years, the following topics will be the most important for business within these industries to focus on: Capital Markets, AI and its integration with banks, payment processing with technology and frictionless payments, open banking, blockchain and POC’s.
How I’m Diving Into Fintech
Since this Conference was my first real exposure to the FinTech space, I quickly learned how much it’s growing and the challenges and opportunities that are emerging for businesses across related industries. As a Government major and International Studies minor, I was also able to draw connections between my studies and the regulatory practices in the FinTech and Financial Services industries. Over the next two months at Interac, I hope to deepen my understanding of the changing ecosystem in financial services and further explore how FinTech’s are catalyzing technological adaption.