Last week I had the honor of attending Finovate Europe 2015.Held in the heart of “the City,” London’s financial district, the two-day eventprovided a platform for dozens of financial technology startups and moreestablished companies from around the world to present their products andtechnologies.
A tour of the exhibition hall revealed how cemented the roleof the mobile phone is now within the payments industry. This should not comeas much of a surprise given the interest in mobile payments, mobile banking,and other mobile services, but the presentations at this year’s eventhighlighted how quickly the mobile platform is changing. For example, Bendlgoand Adelaide Bank of Australia have developed an independent application calledRedy that enables consumers to use their smartphones for crowdfunding anddonations as well as for mobile payments.
Even long-established firms demonstrated innovations. Fiserv,for example, demonstrated the augmented reality components of its white-labelsolution. As consumers increasingly use their phones for all sorts of bankingand payment functions, the innovations highlighted at Finovate this year willlikely be replaced by even more interesting and unique functionality in theyears to come.
Beyond the significance of the mobile channel for payments,another theme that emerged through the presentations is that the mobile captureof data will soon make entering information into forms obsolete. From Jumio toPhotoPay, companies are using the camera functions to make it easier for consumersto fill out forms and thus reduce abandonment rates and avoid forcing consumersto switch channels to complete their information. Convenience is one of thestrongest selling points for this technology; another is added security. Forexample, Mistral Mobile, which was spun off from Nokia’s collapse, demonstratedthat a phone’s camera could be used as biometric security credential byscanning a user’s face.
Though Bitcoin is less in the news these days than it waslast year, there were still a couple of presenters at Finovate who were keen todispel the technology’s fall from grace. CoinJar, which allows users to buy,sell, send, receive, and spend digital and traditional currencies usingBitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology, and Bitbond, a global peer-to-peerBitcoin-based lending platform, drew large crowds and highlighted that eventhough industry interest may have moved away from Bitcoin itself, there isstill interest in the technology that powers it.
Over the course of the event, there was no shortage ofinteresting presenters with innovative products, technologies, and even pitches,which included an appearance from Don Corleone in one presentation. FinovateEurope 2015 was an intriguing and ultimately rewarding experience and provideda small glimpse into firms that may someday be key contributors in the globalpayments industry.