Each year, the most exciting innovations and trends in banking are presented at Finovate conferences. While some of the new ideas may never be seen by the general public, the trends of the demos provide insights into the future of financial services.
Once home to the likes of The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Frank Sinatra, The City National Civic theater had a brief moment to relive its glory days. This time, the rising stars of fintech owned the stage, with over 70 companies presenting at Finovate Spring in San Jose, CA vying for the coveted ‘Best of Show‘ designation.
In a two-day marathon of rapid-fire presentations, each company had just seven minutes to discuss their latest innovations. While we heard from an array of startups, established players also made it clear that they are in the innovation game.
Financial services companies of all shapes and sizes appear to be taking risks. While not all of those bets will pay off, the level of investment bodes well for the future of the industry. One of the most interesting things about Finovate is that it serves as something of a leading indicator of emerging trends.
Here are some of the highlights of this year’s show.
Coming to a Bank Near You … Smart Wearables
While relatively few Apple Watches are gracing the wrists of consumers yet, retail bankers should get prepared. As a product category, technology tracking firm IDC forecasts that vendors will ship 45.7 million wearables worldwide in 2015. Smart wearables, the devices that can run apps created by third-party developers (including banks), will account for 25.7 million units in 2015 (up by 511% from 2014).
According to Ramon Llamas, Research Manager of IDC’s Wearables team, “The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors and devices that are eager to share the spotlight.“
Finovate did not disappoint retail bankers when it comes to the Apple Watch. Malauzai Software showed their Smartwear App and Chief Product Officer Robb Gaynor announced that 8 community banks and credit unions are already live with the product. Malauzai leveraged their existing mobile banking platform which enabled them to develop their wearable technology in record time.
Malauzai Software’s demonstration at Finovate shows that the Apple Watch is on its way to changing retail banking. To start using the Smartwear App (individually branded for each bank), all a customer has to do is download the latest version of the bank’s mobile app from the Apple app store. The Apple Watch tethers to a customer’s iPhone (requiring an iPhone 5 or later).
The functionality in version 1.0 of Malazuai’s Smartwear App is relatively basic and limited to checking balances, viewing transaction history, and accessing a branch locator. But that’s reflective of the vast majority of today’s mobile banking transactions. You’re not going to apply for a personal line of credit on your watch… at least not yet.