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SxSW 2017: Fintech and the Future

Tue, 03/14/2017

By Mark McClennan , SVP, MSLGROUP

When most people think of SxSW, they think of major consumer brands, innovative technology startups and social, social, social. But there is a powerful minority of attendees that is looking at the future of FinTech. There were more than a dozen sessions this year touching on everything from Blockchain to innovation, social commerce to The Frenemy Feud (which took a slightly humorous look at the challenges facing consumers and the industry). Many of these discussions can also be found at Finovate, Money20/20 and FinDevr among other conferences – but SxSW brings a broader ecosystem to the table.

This slide from the Banks and Beyond panel shows the scope of the industry today and how it has grown well beyond core financial services. fintech-technology-and-business-services

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post – almost every question at SxSW can be answered with one of three answers – Bots, AI and VR. FinTech is no different.

Bots in Financial Services

I had interesting discussions with a number of bankers and FinTech execs about bots in FI. While most FIs were talking about bots use in customer service, one potential application that seemed to excite many of them was the possibility of the use of bots in financial literacy. Many FIs spend resources educating consumers on everything from budgeting and loans to smart investing. The challenge is going beyond working with mavens and content marketing. Bots may provide an interactive, branching, conversational tree to have interactive dialogues with customers and is something FinTech communicators should explore.

AI and Data

Financial technology is ripe for AI and many are using it on the institutional back-end. One of my favorite assertions was made in the FinTech: Banks and Beyond panel: Data is new asset class and financial technology companies need to follow the three “I’s”.

  • Data is powered by Integration (datasets and partners) – the move is to opening APIs and SDKs and showing how working with other financial technology companies improves the overall end-users experience (both B2B and B2C). In speaking with many financial reporters and influencers, they are excited by stories of this type and communicators should highlight how they are opening doors.
  • Intelligence (AI) – There has been a sharp rise in discussions on AI in financial services over the past year – from credit scoring and lending to customer service and big data analytics. The challenge I see is too many companies are calling everything AI and it is diluting the impact and causing confusion. It is in danger of being turned into buzzword bingo. We should be clear how our organizations are using intelligence and predictive modeling to avoid confusing media and end users.
  • Integrity – In the end it boils down to trust. Businesses and consumers are giving Financial Services and FinTech companies access to some of their most valuable data and assets. For communicators this goes beyond highlighting how companies aid in compliance and should be a foundational element of any communications program.
Image source: Flickr
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