AI, BaaS and identity: Inside day one of the Fintech Talents Festival
The Fintech Talents Festival has closed off a successful opening day as the industry gathers in London to discuss the next evolution of financial services.
Hosted at The Brewery, the festival has this year attracted over 2,000 delegates and 400 speakers, with discussions set across six themed stages: open finance, identity, mutuals, AI transformation, embedded finance and customer alpha, and the Fintech Talents main stage.
Despite the festival’s wide and varied coverage this year, a clear stand-out topic among all the stages was the rise of AI, and the AI transformation stage didn’t fail to enlighten attendees with direct insights from those leading the evolution of the technology in finance.
Opening discussions on the stage this year was FinTech Futures‘ own Tyler Pathe, who acted as moderator for the debut panel ‘AI in financial services: the current state of play’.
Joining Pathe on stage was Christian Hull, head of innovation at BNY Mellon; Saira Khan, head of innovation and partnerships at First Direct Bank; and Aman Kohli, founder and CTO of financial services at Evolv Technologies.
The well-attended session explored areas of increased adoption in AI, its role in “reinventing” financial services, the technology’s relationship with trust, and also the most prominent barriers to widespread use.
Other notable sessions included a keynote with Andrew Ellis, CEO of NatWest Boxed, who discussed how companies can “unbox the next generation of embedded finance”.
NatWest Boxed is the bank’s Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) proposition, which is being delivered through its partnership with Vodeno Group.
Ellis delved into the service’s core offerings and how it forms a suitable solution to the payment and lending needs of modern businesses.
Speaking to FinTech Futures after the session, Ellis says that the business was set up to provide “BaaS at scale into the market”, with what he describes as “a menu of services built around three products”, being cards and current accounts, payments and lending.
“It really focuses on providing white-label solutions that plug into the digital journeys of companies like retailers and consumer brands, but equally it can support fintechs by providing their banking infrastructure.”
Ellis goes on to explain the proposition’s origin story, in that it was the natural evolution of Mettle, the bank’s earlier cloud-native digital offering for businesses and freelancers, which is now expanding its target audience to a wider range of customers.
“We’ve already signed a couple of clients,” Ellis reveals, “and we expected to go live with them next year, starting with payments and cards, and then lending towards the end of the year.”
NatWest’s head of bank of APIs, Kevin Dearing, also spoke with FinTech Futures at this year’s event, praising its coverage of open banking and API technology.
Providing a snapshot into the bank’s API commercialisation strategy, he explains how it started with the dawn of open banking five years ago.
“Adoption is the biggest challenge in open banking currently, but for the full potential to be realised, all industry players must get on board. Appetite for APIs is increasing every day, but slowly.”
Despite this, Dearing sees open banking as a market opportunity, and he remains optimistic about next year, at which point he predicts adoption achieving “an upturn”.
“We’re looking to go well beyond the mandate to develop further APIs that will be more widely available on commercial terms,” he explains. “If it suits our customers, if it suits the bank, if it suits the third party, then we’re absolutely interested in doing it.”
The festival is set to resume for its second day on 14 November, with digital wallets, machine learning and financial crime all on the agenda.