Onsite Coverage: New Security Tools Take Finovate Stage in Numbers
SAN FRANCISCO — Seven minutes to tell a company’s story. That’s what presenters at Finovate, the San Francisco new technology show, get to dazzle an audience filled with investors, financial institutions, press, and just the curious.
Daunting as that sounds, 72 took up the challenge in the spring 2013 edition of the show.
On day one Tuesday, 36 climbed up on the podium, mixing big names – such as Steve Streit, the founder of Green Dot who was there to hype his non-bank, GoBank – as well as very little companies such as P2BInvestor, which aspires to harness crowdsourced funding to make business loans.
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But what was every bit as interesting, at least to some attendees, was who wasn’t at Finovate. “There wasn’t the usual parade of companies offering rewards programs, or mobile payments companies,” said one Finovate regular.
Why? A theory offered by another observer was that those categories now are mature enough where it is put up or shut up and it has gotten tough to get traction as a genuine startup.
What did show up in numbers on day one were companies with new security tool sets – a category that is gaining lots of interest because, said Toby Rush, CEO of EyeVerify, there’s recognition that traditional user name–password logins are broken in an era of ever-more breaches.
A Kansas City, Kan., firm, EyeVerify seeks to replace password-based logins with eye prints – technology that, said Rush in an interview, is as reliable as fingerprints. He also said that fuel for this is the ever-better quality of smartphone pictures.
At AuthenticID, founder Blair Cohen said in an interview that his identity verification tool – which draws on US Department of Homeland Security data sets – “is 100% accurate.” Other identity verification products, said Cohen, are perhaps 70% accurate.
Other innovative login and authentication companies also climbed on the Finovate stage and, definitely, the audience listened. In many cases skeptically – “We haven’t adopted the new technologies because they still don’t have the reliability we need,” said one financial tech reseller.
But they nonetheless listened.
Similar was true with companies that were part of a second Finovate Day One theme, the rise of the non-bank. Streit, in an interview, disclosed that GoBank would be rolled out nationally to all comers on July 4th, “Independence Day,” said Streit, who added that GoBank offers its own kind of banking independence.
He stressed that “we believe this will be profitable for us,” despite the fact that users will be able to set their own monthly fee (in a range from zero to $9).
As for why he believes now is the time for a streamlined bank such as GoBank – which has exactly one branch, in Utah; he insisted others are not on the drawing board – Streit said that this is the mobile era and a truly mobile banking product will gain many users.