Kevin Tweddle: Lessons from Finovate

By Kevin Tweddle, ICBA

The smell of fall in the air serves as a subtle reminder of the beginning of strategic planning and budgeting season. It also kicks off the busiest time of year for banking and financial technology conferences. Having attended several this season, I wanted to share some key takeaways.

Finovate is probably one of the best conferences out there, offering a pulse on the intersection of fintech and banking. The highlight of the conference is always the 80-plus demos available from various global fintech companies.

In the past three years, there’s been a significant shift in the priorities of fintech companies and banks in terms of their product strategies. In 2017, customer authentication, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were all the rage. This year, most companies were already deploying these technologies and had moved on to other areas.

Customer experience

The strong movement toward customer experience has been driven by forces outside of the financial industry. The big tech and social media giants (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) have made the customer interactive experience simple, efficient and frictionless to the point that they are now the envy of any digitally focused company.

There is a variety of fintech companies also trying to help banks not just with the experience but also with engagement. It is not good enough to have a “cool” solution unless someone is actually using it. Tailored videos, AI-driven guidance and sophisticated digital marketing techniques have all been developed to assist banks with their customer solution journeys and improve adoption.

Financial literacy

Financial literacy appears to be gaining momentum. As banks continue to try to win over the unbanked or underbanked segment, along with Gen Z and millennials, the word is out that these consumers want step-by-step education and guidance with their financial decision-making. And they want it on their mobile-connected devices, including voice, in a simple, consistent, frictionless experience. This makes a lot of sense given the growing complexity of global finance today and the need for a faster process. There are some amazing solutions delivering this “advice-as-a-platform” that are using AI and other emerging technologies to help banks bring the goods to their customers.

Personal digital assistants

It also stands to reason, given the digital transformation and “everything mobile” world we live in, that we need to transform the way we serve and advise our customers as they move along their digital journey. Think of it as a digital concierge service: always on and delivered in real time, transforming the impersonal to personal. The fintech companies developing these solutions are trying to perfectly balance the high-tech, high-touch experience with these offerings.

Kevin Tweddle ( is ICBA’s group executive vice president, innovation and financial technology