This year’s FinovateFall conference saw a record-setting 1,400+ attendees and 70 presenting companies. Of those 70 companies, 7 were awarded Best in Show for their demonstrations on stage:
Here’s a look at what these 7 winners did to set themselves apart, how their innovations hit the mark, and what they’re doing to make fintech more useful for clients and end users.
Why They're Innovative and Useful
What: Blooom demonstrated their tool to help users easily fix mis-invested 401(k) allocations.
Why it’s innovative: Blooom users have the ability to instantly perform meta-analysis across 25,000+ funds and then receive personalized 401(k) advice based on that data. This is the first time a user has been able to perform this kind of analysis so effortlessly.
Why it’s useful: Given the confusing state of 401(k)s and how poorly baby boomers have generally prepared for retirement, making the process simpler is a must. Blooom is geared to change the retirement landscape, and that has the potential to alleviate the stress of retirement for millions of people.
What: LOYAL3 introduced their iOS 8 mobile app, which makes “investing in IPOs and stocks easy and affordable for everyone.”
Why it’s innovative: First, LOYAL3 makes buying and selling stock just about as simple as possible. Second, they don’t charge fees. (They make their money by providing services to the companies they partner with.) Third, they open the way for just about anyone to participate in an IPO.
Why it’s useful: LOYAL3 is useful to end users because the service simplifies the process of investing without charging fees. The app is also useful for partner companies because LOYAL3 helps these companies raise capital and increase their brand engagement.
What: MX showcased two new technologies: WideNet, which lets financial institutions offer an app to potential account holders, and Helios, which enables those institutions to offer a cross-platform digital banking framework that combines transactional banking functionality with financial management.
Why it’s innovative: WideNet represents the first time that banks and credit unions can offer a branded financial management app to potential account holders. In addition, Helios is the first banking app that’s built on a single native codebase and is truly cross-platform (as was shown in the 9-device demonstration on Finovate’s stage).
Why it’s useful: With WideNet technology, financial institutions don't have to wait for someone to open an account to start a relationship. Instead, the first step can be as simple as downloading an app. Helios gives end users a cross-platform experience that’s faster and more stable than what was previously possible — and it works on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even FireTV.
What: CrowdFlower showcased a data enrichment platform made for data scientists, analysts and engineers.
Why it’s innovative: CrowdFlower leverages the help of more than 5 million contributors by handling task distribution and quality assurance. It represents the first time this many people have been put to work on a single crowdsourcing platform.
Why it’s useful: Companies can use CrowdFlower to perform a series of microtasks such as data collection, content moderation, sentiment analysis, data categorization, etc. This means that tasks that used to be impossibly expensive (or just plain impossible) are now manageable.
What: AnchorID presented “a new way to log into websites and apps.” This technology sidesteps logins and passwords and instead anchors authentication to the end user’s phone.
Why it’s innovative: AnchorID mixes security with freedom — a hard combination to get right. AnchorID innovates by tying the login process to a user’s phone (though users can also add additional security measures such as biometrics, a PIN, questions, and so on).
Why it’s useful: Just about everyone hates how complex and inefficient the state of digital passwords has become. People are tired of forgetting character combinations, and they’re worried that even the best passwords aren’t hacker proof. AnchorID seems to solve both of these problems by making the process simple and safe.
What: Toopher demonstrated their geofencing and biometrics authentication technologies.
Why it’s innovative: Adding geofencing technology means that when a user enters or leaves a specified location, Toopher will incorporate that data and decide whether to make it part of the sign in or sign out process.
Why it’s useful: Given the current state of passwords, anything that can securely simplify the authentication process for end users is inherently valuable. Toopher’s geofencing technology adds another angle to the multi-factor solution, which is the way security is certain to go.
What: NICE introduced a real-time voice authentication technology, ideal for use in call centers.
Why it’s innovative: The use of voice biometrics as a way of authenticating a caller’s identity seems like something from the future, but NICE showed that it is indeed possible.
Why it’s useful: Few things are more annoying than an endless phone tree where you have to first authenticate yourself to a computer-entry system and then authenticate yourself again when you talk to a human. NICE's technology allows authentication to take place in real time.
Altogether, FinovateFall was once again extremely successful. In addition to all the networking that took place, the presenting companies were able to demonstrate the latest in fintech and showcase why clients and customers will find value in the products they offer. As Chris Skinner said in his recent post on Finovate, innovation in the financial technology industry comes in small increments rather than all at once. But that's the way innovation always works, isn't it? Each new idea builds on the previous ideas and before you know it you've got something completely new. That's what each of these 7 winners represents.