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Finovate Spring 2017: Highlights From Day 1

April 27, 2017 at 9:58 AM

We at Principa decided to attend Finovate Spring again this year (we were here 2 years ago) to learn about new trends, network with like-minded companies and to look for potential partnerships. In this post, I cover some of the highlights and more interesting topics from Day 1 of the industry's most exciting gathering of innovators in the fintech world.

Our 3 sources of input for innovation


As we invest tens of thousands of hours every year to develop our analytics and tech products, we need to ensure that we take input from the three principal sources of innovative ideas as we develop our innovation road-maps. We are fully aware that the development paths are in a large way determined by our collective imaginations and client demands.

The one input that we are determined not to ignore is for us to stay in contact with global trends. Finovate provides an ideal platform for us to look for partnerships, new synergies and to best understand what new developments are topical across different industries and in different geographies. At Finovate you get to listen to nearly 60 companies talk about their products and why they are doing what they are doing. Thereafter you are given ample time to network with these companies and explore more.

Whereas the themes covered at Finovate cover a wide-range of tools across a variety of industries - all under the umbrella of “financial sector” - the main industries covered are the following:

  • Lending
  • Insurance
  • Customer Services
  • Investing
  • Security / Fraud
  • Data / Analytics
  • Training

In this post we explore some of the key highlights of day 1 from the conference.

Highlights: Day 1

We were exposed to wide variety of businesses on day 1 at Finovate. The majority of companies presenting were North America-based, with a small number from Europe and two from Israel. The two areas we found of most interest were how new technology was being applied to reduce fraud and to reduce paperwork for customers during the application process. 

Reducing fraud

On the lending front, some of the key themes incorporated security and fraud in the originations space. Innovation here has been driven by both legislation and risk mitigation requirements. While South African lenders have been battling Proof of Income (POI) compliance matters over the past 2 years, European lenders have been introducing video verification steps for digital applications to meet some of their compliance requirements. Expect South Africa to start adopting this soon either through another wave of compliance or simply as necessity to support omni-channel capabilities.

Companies such as Jumio, with their Topayz product and Synapsefi all have products with video verification capability. Features of this include two elements:

  1. The first is the customer recording a video of themselves stating “I, John Doe, would like a $10,000 loan. This step confirms that the application matches the customer’s true desire. A fraudster could change the audio recorded on the video. The likes of Synapsefi incorporate lip-reading algorithm to ensure what was said matches the customer’s lips (another fraud mitigation feature).
  2. The second element is using facial recognition software to match a video of an individual to their ID photo. The software is advanced enough to recognise that it is a human rather than a picture of the individual.

Scroll down for the videos of the more notable presentations from Day 1.

Reducing paperwork in applications

As South African lenders battle with the income verification steps and the inevitable drop-off in completion of application (also known as reduction in “starter rate”), similar challenges are being felt elsewhere in other geographies and industries. An example being the very competitive mortgage sector in the US where 20-30 documents per application is common. As an increasing number of applications move over to a digital platform, drop off in applications is a major problem.

Solutions presented this year at Finovate Spring addressing this issue incorporate smart documentation management through the following tools:

  1. Intelligent documentation management
  2. Dynamic customer-conversation platform

1. Intelligent Document Management

Intelligent documentation management is nothing new, what has changed is that it appears to have got smarter. Through optical character recognition (OCR) technology (which, incidentally, is over 100 years old!) and machine learning, the systems demonstrated were not only able to scrape data from scanned documents, but to classify all data and do key comparisons and flagging discrepancies.

Key Intelligent Document Management companies featured were: 

  • HotDocs who also have nifty documentation building templates that can be deployed rapidly;
  • Capsilon who focus on working through large amounts of docs and effectively converting unstructured documentation data into structured data – the US government use them too;
  • Microblink who through their mobile apps have some very impressive and swift data receipt and ID capturing tools.

2.Dynamic Customer-Conversation platform

The second digital application support tool that was demoed was a dynamic customer-conversation platform. Here call centre staff can step into a customer’s online application through a chat portal to guide the customer through their application. The “chat” portal can toggle from text to voice to video and text and docs can be exchanged, guided browsing toggled and meetings scheduled etc.

Layer presented an impressive conversational platform. SaleMove believe that intuitive customer service is essential with their Omnibrowse platform and that “How can I help you,” should now be an obsolete phrase.

Read my blog post on highlights from Day 2 of Finovate here.

Learn more about our Coaching Bot for Call Centre Agents 

Thomas Maydon
Thomas Maydon
Thomas Maydon is the Head of Credit Solutions at Principa. With over 17 years of experience in the Southern African, West African and Middle Eastern retail credit markets, Tom has primarily been involved in consulting, analytics, credit bureau and predictive modelling services. He has experience in all aspects of the credit life cycle (in multiple industries) including intelligent prospecting, originations, strategy simulation, affordability analysis, behavioural modelling, pricing analysis, collections processes, and provisions (including Basel II) and profitability calculations.

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