We had a chance to participate in the Empire Startups FinTech Conference, part of FinTech Week NYC, this past April. The event brought together more than 500 FinTech leaders, developers, and entrepreneurs to look at the newest startups and opportunities in the world of financial technology. Some of the themes at this year’s conference included how traditional banks are trying to survive the disruption of FinTech; the growth of insurance technology; and the potential impact that banking deregulation will have on innovation.
As part of the conference, our team at Envestnet® | Yodlee® helped to organize a panel called B2Bank Trends to share some of the FinTech and banking trends our partners have seen develop over the last several months. We had a great mix of speakers on the panel, including Kristi Ross, Co-CEO and President of TastyTrade; Nima Ghamsari, Co-Founder and CEO of Blend; Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of FinTech Partnerships, HSBC; and, Luis Valdich, Managing Director, Citi Ventures.
The panel started with comparisons of how easily the startups can garner cooperation from banks. It was a mixed set of results, considering that one startup competes while the other collaborates with traditional banks. Then the banking professionals were asked about what type of partnerships have been working well. Kaushalya mentioned that HSBC and Tradeshift joined forces to revolutionize working capital financing, and she shared some of the valuable lessons they learned as a result of working together. For example, when third-party partners are platform-agnostic, everything works very well.
It's important for startups to know their audience, and know how to make their tech work within the bank's systems. Unfortunately, many startups may know their competitive advantage and promise solutions, but expect the banks to know how to make it work. "We're just here with the technology, we thought you would know how to make this work," is a common refrain from many third-party providers. The banking professionals agreed that one of the most important skills is the ability to take an idea from creation all the way to execution. A startup can have a champion at the bank advocating for them, but if you haven't thought through all aspects of working with a bank, the initiative can get stalled in many areas including risk and compliance.
Another topic was what FinTech will look like in the future. The panelists see a future where everyone in the financial services industry collaborates and may possibly even consolidate. But in order to do that the banks need to focus on being customer-centric, and the different business units need to share data instead of operating in siloes. The panelists believe that this is where startups are differentiating themselves — they're worried less about adhering to all the banks' rules and traditions and are concerned more with creating a seamless user experience. After the conference, we learned that the B2Banks Trends panel was voted as the crowd’s favorite based on the attendee surveys at the end. We were pleased to help assemble an all-star panel to discuss the latest FinTech and banking trends.
We're even more excited to hear about what FinTech innovators are doing to improve the consumer experience at future events, including the Empire Startups FinTech Conference in Toronto on June 27th and in San Francisco on November 7 th this year. To learn more about how FinTech companies and banks can work together to survive and thrive, download this ebook on FinTech Rising: Creating Synergy in Financial Services.