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Battling Post-Lunch Lethargy

The Finovate crowd now has the lethargy (is this a word?) associated with a huge lunch.  Finovate lunches are generally really good.  I over ate like everyone else and I’m now double fisting coffee.  Wait, how do I double fist coffee while I’m typing?  He he…it’s a skill I learned in college. 

So far each Session 3 company has presented technology that falls within one of the previously defined categories.  No one has introduced something that warrants blaring Yanni music across the sound system (Yanni is staring down at me from his perch within his large picture frame).  I found that presentations from TD Ameritrade/LikeFolio, BodeTree, D3 Banking and Digital Retail Apps/Self Pay really stood out to me.

TD Ameritrade is striving to position itself to be relevant to the younger audience…which they called Gen Z. Apparently this generation does not “like” stocks or does not understand why they should invest in the stock market.  They do, however, love brands.  Go brand marketers!!!  TD Ameritrade’s LikeFolio helps Gen Zrs find stocks of the brands that these consumers like the most.  This technology clearly leverages social media and “likes” and ties it to stock recommendations. 

At first pass, this sounds interesting.  However, this type of investing from the consumer, Gen Z perspective is crazy INSANE!  In standard investment text books this type of investing is called momentum investing.  NEVER DO THIS.  Don’t buy a stock that has all the buzz around it.  The buzz is already baked into the stock price.  Just because Gen Z loves a brand…and therefore a stock…does not mean the company has strong fundamentals and is a good buy.  Seriously.  However, I’m sure TD Ameritrade will drive users to “how to evaluate a stock” information through links on the LikeFolio page.  We hope.  

I really like how BodeTree is focused on providing financial information and actionable insights to small business owners.  I’d like to see more companies, specifically PFM providers, focus on the small business.  The most compelling feature of the presented application is the auto sync of financial data from QuickBooks.  This feature addresses a key point of friction…which is the manual entry of data.  Lastly, Bode Tree has a VERY clean, intuitive UI.  Understanding and manipulating data looks very easy…which is key.  Small business owners labor through getting stuff done on QuickBooks. The last thing they want to do is futz (a technical term) around with a PFM app.  Now the big challenge for Bode will be customer trial and adoption.  Strategic partnerships could help here. 

Digital Retail Apps presented a well-designed retail oriented payments system called Self Pay. I like the concept.  I can zip around a store with our five year old in tow, find what we need, scan the bar code and add to the shopping cart.  My wife spend a lot of time removing things from the shopping cart that our son tosses in.  At the end of the shopping session, I can “check out”, select payment card and pay…all from the mobile device.  The disconnect for me is what happens next.  The application issues a digital receipt that needs to be verified by a retail store employee. 

The wrinkle I see is in the retail theft side of things. A retail employee will need to scan the receipt and verify the items I’m leaving the store with.  Ugh.  I’m getting flash backs to consumer experiences at Costco.  Like all payments apps the devil is in the details of the entire payment ecosystem.  Digital Retail Apps has a great start with Self Pay.  Hopefully they can work out the kinks and find the right partner to drive retail adoption.  I think a clothing retailer will like them. 

Lastly, from a backend perspective, D3 Banking KILLED IT with what they presented.  What they presented was not visually sexy, which they readily admitted during their 7 minute presentation.  However, what they have done to help a mid or lower tier financial institutions create a great online and mobile banking experience is HUGE.  Their solution is API driven, platform agnostic and enables the development of a consistent UI across all channels.  Boom. This addresses a lot of anxiety for online banking and IT professionals who have to create a next generate banking environment using ancient legacy systems.  Bravo D3.

Topics: Technology