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Fintech 31 Oct 2016

Is Drone-based banking part of the fintech future?

Which of these is most likely to happen in financial services?

  1. Self-insuring products?
  2. Drone-based banking?
  3. API banking platforms?

It’s the third, according to audiences at this year’s Money20/20 in Las Vegas, but all three were discussed by members of the BBVA family in panel sessions at this year’s event. The bank’s  Head of Open APIs Shamir Karkal, Managing Partner of Propel Venture Partners Jay Reinemann and Simple’s CEO Josh Reich each participated in a panel at the show.

Common to all three panels were packed auditoria – a reflection of the topics being discussed and the more than 10 000 delegates at the show – engaged audiences and some genuinely differentiated points of view.

Jay’s panel was made up of representatives from corporate and institutional venture capital funds discussing the Future of Fintech Investing – where the dollars are going to be travelling in future. Fellow panelist David Wieden from Khosla Ventures felt Real Estate – commercial and residential property – was a likely area. “It’s underhyped and lightly regulated,” he explained. Fresh from Propel’s investment in ‘insurtech’ business Hixme , Jay was very positive about the insurance market, and wondered if the future lay in intelligent products that could insure themselves. “Do people really have time to insure everything, or is the future about the car automatically renewing itself?”.

The panel also discussed whether fund structures made a difference in how those funds were allocated. Jay, who was previously Managing Director of BBVA Ventures, the bank’s corporate fund, and who worked with BBVA to set up Propel Venture Partners under a new structure, felt it did: “The fact that we are now putting our own money into the fund has introduced additional rigour into our decision-making process,” he said.

Simple’s Reich was on a panel with a representative of a traditional bank (ING) and a disruptor (Moven) to discuss the current state of Digital Banking. Drone-based banking was his pithy way of illustrating that technology for its’ own sake has very little utility. “Don’t confuse technology with innovation,” he stated.

In a short presentation as part of the panel, Reich shared the thinking behind the recent Shared Account launch, something that he said informs everything that they do. “Four ways of working with the customer in mind – Empathy, Curiosity, Craft and Efficiency.”

Unsurprisingly, given his role, Shamir’s panel was on Open APIs – software programmes from a company that plug into another business to allow that business to use that functionality, a good example being Facebook Connect. Shamir seemed to be in tune with the packed room when he pronounced that “with banks and the creation of API platforms, it’s a question of when, not if.” Karkal now has an API Platform in beta in the US and Spain, and new APIs available such as notifications – where details of customer bank transactions are plugged into 3rd party app.

At the end of the session, the moderator  asked delegates present if they thought that API Banking was here to stay – and the show of hands was overwhelming.

From the three panels with BBVA participation, the themes coming through appeared to be a shift in fintech investment towards B2B opportunities, the application of technology for the benefit of customers rather than for the sake of it and how APIs are going to become central to banking. We can see where drone-based banking and self-insuring products are at the next Money20/20 in Copenhagen in June.

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