Fintech broadening its horizions

Dr David
Walcott

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

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TECH Beach Retreat this year brings world-class keynote speakers, panel discussions, fireside chats, workshops, nightlife and live entertainment all surrounding an ecosystem of progressive conversations about critical technological entities of our era, such as artificial intelligence, and how it can be leveraged in different domains, including education.

Financial innovation is often summarised as 'fintech'; this portmanteau word of finance and technology has been, and will continue to be, a focal point of conversation in the financial industry, particularly in the banking sector.

Initially, the term defined back-end activities, but currently it has broadened its horizon and involves several different technological creations and innovations taking place in the financial industry.

Fintech plays an increasingly prominent role in all facets of the financial industry and includes numerous new methods of banking transactions, digital money, loans and wealth management. Some estimate that one out of three customers from the banking industry utilises this technology and its awareness continues to increase by the day.

For the upcoming retreat the organisers are excited to announce headline speaker Michele Ramanow, founder and CEO of ClearBanc and Dragon on popular Canadian television show Dragon's Den.

For those who aren't familiar, Dragon's Den led to the creation of its sister show in the US, Shark Tank.

Also in the line-up is Jeff Pulver, co-founder of Vonage, a pioneer in the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) space. Jeff is recognised globally for changing the way we communicate and Jason Mars, founder and CEO, Clinc, which has developed some of the most advanced artificial intelligence solutions for the banking industry.

Michele Romanow is an engineer and a serial entrepreneur who started five companies before her 33rd birthday. The youngest-ever entrepreneur to join CBC's hit show D ragon's Den, Michele is the co-founder of e-commerce platforms Buytopia.ca and SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon), which have saved millions of users hundreds of millions of US dollars. She is ranked in WXN's “100 Most Powerful in Canada” and is listed as the only Canadian on Forbes' “Millennial on a Mission” list.

Her current venture Clearbanc is offering financial services for entrepreneurs.

Buytopia is ranked third on the Profit Hot 50 list of fastest-growing companies, first on Chatelaine's W100 list of fastest-growing companies, Canadian Innovation Awards – Angel Investor of the Year and was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. Michele was previously the Director of Strategy for Sears. She holds an engineering degree and an MBA from Queen's University where she received the Queen's Tricolour. Michele is a director on the board of Vail Resorts, Shad Valley, Freshii and League of Innovators.

Throughout his highly successful international career Jeff Pulver is known for promoting Internet communications and telephony and has helped change the way the world communicates. An “Order” named after Jeff Pulver was issued by the Federal Communications Commission, supported by the White House.

Jeff Pulver can be described as Internet pioneer, VoIP entrepreneur, investor, strategist, astrophotographer, speaker and futurist. He helped shape the worldwide market acceptance of VoIP and is the founder/co-founder of numerous start-ups including Alchemist, Free World Dialup, VON, Vivox, MoNage and Vonage, as well as being a veteran of the trade show industry, a producer, host and curator of events.

Jason Mars was named one of the top 10 most innovative CEOs in the banking industry by BankInnovation.net. Jason and his team have developed a powerful artificial intelligence-powered solution that consumers can talk to “like a human in a room” via text or voice as Alexa does. Clinc's Finie assistant was built like a brain, not AI, in that it understands natural language – so there is no need for command phrases or keywords – and it uses that data to share relevant spending and financial insight to the customer.

NEW INNOVATIONS IN FINANCE

There is no shortage of innovation in the spheres of finance: from blockchain to artificial intelligence – the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution have been slowly seeping into finance.

Ultimately, however, it is likely that these technologies will end up making financial services available to more people, and serve those traditionally left out of the financial system. Here are three examples of innovations in this area.

LENDING

Traditionally, to justify loans, financial institutions would analyse your

creditworthiness, examine the amounts of funds in your accounts, your transaction histories and predictable income streams, all of which revolve around bank account activity.

However, today's fintech players may use non-traditional data sources such as web search history, mobile phone data and social networking to determine creditworthiness. This enables the unbanked population to get access to microloans and ultimately allows accessible financing to a larger pool.

FLEXIBLE PAYMENT PLANS

Affordability and flexibility in fintech will be big in the coming years. One promising innovation in this space is pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) financing. The idea of PAYGo solutions is to allow customers to break down payments for goods and services into small amounts and pay them weekly or even monthly, instead of paying large upfront sums. This model has been used by companies in the clean energy sector to provide solar home systems across emerging markets.

BLOCKCHAIN

The fintech blockchain market is growing at a fast pace, due to the rising cryptocurrency market cap and Initial Currency Offering (ICO), high computability with financial services ecosystem, faster transactions, and reduced total cost of ownership. The fintech blockchain ecosystem comprises vendors, such as AWS, IBM and Ripple and is unlikely to relinquish its presence anytime soon.

These players have adopted multiple business strategies to extend their global presence and expand their market share. With highly attractive, but speculative, projections, the global fintech blockchain market size is expected to grow from

US$370.3 million in 2018 to US$6,228.2 million by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 75.9 per cent during the forecast period.

Learn more at Tech Beach Retreat!

We look forward to hearing more from a series of local and global experts in the technology and innovation sectors at Tech Beach Retreat, which will take place November 30 - December 2 at Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Tech Beach promises to feature the latest in financial, consumer, health care and media technologies, all of which are relevant to the economic transformation of the Caribbean.

Dr David Walcott is a Rhodes scholar, a doctor and an entrepreneur. He is the founder of Novamed, which is involved in building and investing in first-world health solutions for the Caribbean.

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