Finovate NYC Draws Record Crowd: Onsite Reporting
NEW YORK — More than 1,400 attendees – the largest Finovate attendance ever – swarmed into the Hilton Midtown Tuesday to hear seven-minute presentations from 70 financial technology innovators over two days.
Thirty-five were up on day one. Among the most compelling, judging by audience buzz, were fresh ideas about voice biometrics for member authentication, a how-to of bringing transparency to the murky debt collection market and an encompassing rewards program from MasterCard.
For credit unions, the day’s most compelling offering was MX, a company better known as MoneyDesktop. At Finovate declared its new name, as well as debuting a new offering it claimed would mobilize personal financial management tools across multiple platforms (such as Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Amazon’s Fire) in a way that will give a user a coherent, seamless display as he or she navigates from platform to platform.
An MX innovation called WideNet, offered as an opt in to participating institutions, will allow non-members to download and use a version of the MX app. Built in will be much of the functionality of the full featured app, but the idea, MX said in its demo, is that it will serve as a promotion for the sponsoring financial institution and may also encourage users to open new accounts.
The real takeaway from the MX presentation was that PFM, which many had believed would be difficult to mobilize due to reduced screen real estate, can be brought to life on a small screen with the right, gaming influenced design.
Also winning interest from at least some credit unions in the audience were voice biometrics used to authenticate members in real time, with no effort, according to Paramus, N.J.-based NICE Systems in its demo.
The idea is simple. As members call into call centers on routine matters their voices, at many institutions, are routinely recorded. Those recordings, suggested NICE, can be harnessed on subsequent calls to authenticate that member, in as few as 10 seconds, and without any of the hassle of enrolling a member in a voice biometric program.
More radical ideas came up in the presentation of Global Debt Registry, a startup that aims to tame the Wild West that is debt collection, where debt paper often is sold from company to company and, along the way, clear title – ownership of the debt – is sometimes lost.
Numerous government agencies are concerned about the opacity that afflicts debt, said Global Debt Registry CEO Mark Parsells, who pointedly added that some of the unsavory collection practices pose profound reputational risks for legitimate loan originators who sell their written off paper into the collection market.
The idea behind Global Debt Registry is to create a clearinghouse for debt where many involved parties, from loan originators to debtors, can check loan status and who presently owns the paper with a few mouse clicks.
A last idea that won some favor was offered by MasterCard with its MasterCard Pay With Rewards program. However, MasterCard conceded that the rewards market is glutted with offerings. There also are many programs that allow consumers to use rewards to pay for online purchases.
What there are not, MasterCard said, are ways for consumers to, on the fly, cash in rewards to pay for purchases at retail in a way that is opaque to the merchant. They key, MasterCard said, is that the merchant is still getting cash value from MasterCard.
Consumers also can use the service to pay for online purchases, MasterCard said.
The other key difference with MasterCard Pay with Rewards is that it covers more than a selection of merchants; it can be used throughout the MasterCard network. The upshot, MasterCard said, is “ubiquity and scale, without modification to POS systems or card processes.”