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San Jose's Still Rocking

Finovate is off and running.  I am sitting elbow to elbow with hundreds of other FinTech enthusiasts at the Civic in San Jose.  I just hope I don’t spill my coffee on the guy next to me.  The Civic is home to several rock legend performances including Buddy Holly, The Beach Boys, and Fleetwood Mac.  Ugh…I have to admit as a long time resident of the San Jose area, I had NO IDEA so many famous acts came through here.  Now financial technology rock stars are playing their tunes at FinovateSpring [INSERT AIR GUITAR RIFF].

The morning session presentation focused on many familiar themes including identity verification/security, investing, loan/mortgage origination, big data analytics and, of course, mobile payments.  PrivatBank was set to present a smart ATM entry, but their fabulous ATM device got caught in customs.  Wow, I bet the customs agent who reviewed that shipment had a lot of share with his/her spouse that evening.

 I was very impressed by what EyeVerify presented in the identify verification space.  Their technology, EyePrint ID, uses a 1MB pixel camera from a phone or pad to scan the eye…creating a “footprint” of a user’s blood vessels.  This footprint, or eye print, is used to unlock identity credentials, verify an identity or enable a secure log in.  Wow.  This sounds so cool.  I can see banks and security companies jumping all over this.  Hmm…but this is not NEW technology.  Eye scanning has been part of James Bond movies for decades.  I’m sure the CIA and FBI use this technology already.  How come it’s taking so long to get to market?  There could be a consumer issue into WANTING to use their eyes to verify themselves.  Does the scan hurt?  Will I go blind?  Will it cause me to increase my glasses prescription if I use it too much!?  He he.  I’m being snarky of course, but I wonder if these are things consumers think about…and may have an impact on adoption.  Wouldn’t be easier to use a finger print?

 Improving the investing and money management process continues to be a theme as well.  Motif has presented, and won awards, in the past with their theme-based “basket of stocks” called a Motif.  Their innovation is focused on enabling motif investing for financial advisors…and not just for consumer investors.  The Motif UI is always clean and intuitive and they did not disappoint this morning with the financial advisors dashboard.  Advisors can easily see portfolios of their clients, rebalance and look at returns.  Very cool.  My stomach hurts, however, when I think of a software application picking a basket of stocks for me.  How do we know their algorithms are right?  I know someone who bet his lifetime savings on a “can’t lose” investment algorithm from a Stanford PhD and LOST EVERYTHING. 

 The mortgage and loan origination space is well represented by LendingTree and Roostify.  LendingTree launched a mortgage lending market place designed to help consumers find the best rate…and help lenders find the right customers.   This sounds very BankRate.com to me.  I don’t understand where the differentiation is with LendingTree and how they can protect themselves from another rate aggregators with an advertising model.  Roostify is striving to improve the mortgage lending process by making loan originating faster and more transparent.  This is a growing space with other players entering in the market including GoRefi.com.  Roostify may have a hard time informing customers WHY they want to use them.  For example, I’ve done over 10 real estate transactions with my wife…and we always use a broker who continually gives us great rates.  The best part of a broker is that HE does the work for me.  I don’t need to go online and HOPE I am getting the best rate.

 Lastly, Loop turned some heads with what they presented in the mobile payments space.  Their “loop” is a piece of actual technology wire that is imbedded in a device…or in the case of the presentation…a phone case or a dongle.  This seems awkward from a consumer perspective.  However, the BIG WIN they are claiming is that the Loop device/wire will be compatible with over 80% of merchant’s card readers already in store. That is cool. This addresses a major problem for PayPal and Square who regularly struggle with consumer and merchant adoption.  HOWEVER, can Loop convince handset manufacturers to imbed their technology?  If not, can they convince consumers to adopt a handset case or dongle to use the application….making the device even more clunky than a wallet?  Hmmm……food for thought!!!!

 I have further thoughts to share on the big data presentations…but the next session is starting!  More later!


Topics: Technology