London Fintech Week: a two-minute lowdown

As London's 5th annual Fintech Week rolls to a close, I scrabble together my notes in an attempt to make some sense of the many, many speakers and panels that addressed over 5,000 people from all across the financial services landscape.

You could be forgiven for thinking that a major fintech conference would be all challenger banks, disruptors, movers and shakers. And whilst it was great to see the Monzos, the Xeros and the dozens of crypto experts, it was also reassuring to see the likes of Nationwide, RBS, Bank of England and Oracle talking so openly about the future of banking. 

Each day at Fintech Week focused on a different topic, but rather than delving into each one, I'm going to share some of the more prevalent messages that resonated with me. I still don't quite understand blockchain, but thanks to some incredibly engaging panel talks, I definitely know more about it than I did last week.

User behaviour

  • The average bank app user is younger than the average CFO — a major reason why it takes so long for innovation to penetrate big companies.
  • Finger and face recognition is increasingly used by millennials to log in to back accounts. Is this good or bad, asks Steve Cook biometrics specialist.
  • 4 million UK shoppers gave in to 'boredom buying' on their mobiles during duller moments of the pre-semi final World Cup matches. If that's not a reason to nail your mobile UI and cart process then I don't know what is. More info
"Innovation is about the culture you create and the people you hire." — Simon Rogerson, Octopus co-founder.

Standout quotes

  • "Innovation isn't just about technology... that's the easy bit. Innovation is about the culture you create and the people you hire." — Octopus co-founder, Simon Rogerson
  • "Innovation versus disruption; innovation is doing the same things but a little better. Disruption builds a new model that makes the existing one obsolete." — Mitesh Soni, Senior Director – Innovation, Fintech and Ecosystems at Finastra
  • "Connectedness and ethics need to play a greater role in tech development. It's about coding the future." — Darshita Gillies, entreupreuneur
  • "When you place resources in the control of a women in an emerging market, she will invest 90% back into the community." — Amber Nystrom, co-founder of 5th Element Group

Payments and crypto

  • Hackers are targeting new cryptocurrency investors, with around 1m bitcoins being stolen since the currency's inception 8 years ago. More info
  • Fire, a business payment startup, help companies manage payments by providing digital accounts for employees. Quick to open and easy to use. More info
The inspiring 'Women in Blockchain' panel.

Blockchain (I get it now)

  • In a case for 'Blockchain for Impact' we heard how blockchain tech can fight poverty around the globe if governments in developed countries could enable a token system that delivers food to developing countries by creating value from food waste. Nice.
  • A particular highlight was the 'Women in Blockchain' panel. Female leaders are key to promoting the great work happening in the world of blockchain and ensuring that the industry starts and continues with strong gender parity. Some key figures to follow: Darshita Gillies and Michelle Chivunga from our hometown of Guildford. A clear message throughout Fintech Week is that more women need to be involved in the blockchain and crypto space and wider fintech space too to make the world a better place.

Other highlights

  • Nationwide Building Society introduced us to 'Open Banking for Good' or OB4G. Launching in September, OB4G will work with the government to help those who are financially squeezed after sudden changes to their personal circumstances. Generally, this is an open vehicle to help change and help how people manage their money with tech.
  • With phrases like "challenger banks" and "disruptors" it's easy to forget that the financial services industry is just that — one industry. One of Fintech Week's many panels discussed how fintech companies and banks can work in harmony. Are big banks struggling with innovation, or are startups filling niche gaps? Scott Carey makes sense of it here.
  • Any finally, one of the more poignant questions of the week... how do you regulate a revolution? It's not easy. But it shouldn't be hard. The wall of wisdom does well to capture the conversation...
The crypto 'wall of wisdom'.

Next up? Legal Geek, October 2018. 💼