2017 Canada FinTech Forum Recap
By Emilie Katavic
We had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the 2017 Canada FinTech Forum. The conference is held annually by Finance Montreal and if you were not sure about attending or could not make it this year, we’ve got you covered! It was a success and their biggest conference yet featuring a completely new Techno Zone section hosted by Deloitte. The conference definitely provided some interesting insights on artificial intelligence (AI), big data, data distribution, and the shift in banking technology as well as the overall influence of tech in the financial industry. Let’s run through what was buzzing this year in terms of discussions.
AI WILL BE EVERYWHERE
As expected, one of the most talked about subjects throughout the conference was artificial intelligence. It seems that fintechs, banks, and consulting companies have started to embrace the implications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and how it is currently affecting their work environment.
Deloitte is a good example. At the conference they had a real life robot called Pepper, who could respond to requests and who apparently helps around their office. More than just being their right hand, Pepper will play an increasingly significant role in gathering information, making decisions, and connecting with stakeholders. A great deal of time for consulting companies like Deloitte, is spent on data analysis which could be more efficiently done by robots like Pepper.
AI is also influencing banking institutions. A great discussion was led by Sadia Halim, Head of CIB Innovation Americas, BNP Paribas on the subject. She explained that banking institutions are going through major transformations as they are now able to gain deeper insights from large datasets in order to establish patterns and correlations using data science tools such as machine learning, AI, etc. She continued saying that firms are already seeing a positive track record using these tools for: anti-money laundering, fraud detection, and customer service with real time insights, recommendations, and decision making.
Another riveting panel was held by Alec Saunders from Microsoft, and Mohamed Musbah from Maluuba (a recent Microsoft acquisition) on how AI is Digitally Transforming Finance. Discussions revolved around AI trends, scenarios, and futures.
We completely agree with the BNP Paribas and Microsoft speakers! Banks and financial institutions are now in a position where they can scour through large amounts of data to perform machine learning or artificial intelligence. Their biggest pain is sorting through that data so that they can analyze correlations and ultimately capitalize on them- that’s where we come in! TickSmith’s ready-to-go solution, TickVault, provides easy access to vast amounts of financial data, analytics, time-series, workflow, reports, entitlements, web store etc. These features allow users to explore their data in deeper context.
HIGH QUALITY DATA IS A MUST
The FinTech Forum would not be complete if it did not cover the topic of Big Data and data distribution. Our very own CEO, Francis Wenzel, addressed this topic at the conference and reminded everyone that in order to perform AI, machine learning, predictive analytics then you need high quality data that is usable and easily accessible. Firms need to ensure that they have the proper infrastructure to collectively store, normalize, and distribute large amounts of data (and we’re talking petabytes here).
Francis mentioned that our TickVault platform is not only used for data distribution but also serves a multitude of use cases from compliance, risk management to, of course, data science. Some of our platform modules that are available are: advanced analytics, point-in-time market depth, and trade reporting amongst others.
HUMANS ARE STILL RELEVANT!
The Canada FinTech Forum was action packed and very informative in terms of the cutting-edge technologies featured. From Deloitte’s robot, to Croesus’ financial markets VR game to Microsoft’s Real Time Crowd Insights, it was exhilarating to have this technology available to play with but simultaneously it started to feel overwhelming. Are we going to serve any purpose in the future if machines will be able to do it all? Were we better off in the old days with limited technology?
Peter Diamandis was luckily there to reassure us all, well, his hologram was. He started out the conversation by explaining the motto that drives all his research “the future is better than you think.” Phew- what a breath of fresh air. He backed up his points with DATA showing an increase in longevity over the years, reduction of poverty, waning of war, amongst others.
Diamandis then went into explaining the “6 D’s of Tech Disruption” and how it was relevant for folks in the financial sector. He used Blockbuster and Netflix as a way to describe his point. Blockbuster was the go-to for DVD rentals in the 90s and early 00s however, technology was rapidly changing and moving away from DVDs to online streaming but Blockbuster was too stagnant in changing their business model so eventually they went bankrupt while Netflix grew exponentially. This part of Diamandis’ presentation was to caution financial institutions not to be too reluctant to accept technological change. Change is happening NOW and needs to be implemented for monetary growth.
The 6 Ds that Diamandis highlighted were: digitized, deceptive, disruptive, demonetized, dematerialized, and democratized.
The one that stuck with us the most is the “democratized” stage, “the stage where powerful technologies are available to everyone and not just for governments, large organizations, or the wealthy” which is where we are at. TickSmith is built on Big Data technology which is usable by anyone and doesn’t require expert or specialized knowledge to run. Data distribution has been revolutionized so that selling and managing large datasets is more accessible as it now all sits in the cloud. This cuts time, costs, and allows data analysts, data scientists, etc. to spend more time looking at trends and comparing market statistics.
The technology that TickSmith offers really speaks to the whole concept of what Diamandis presented. Financial institutions need to dive into their data at a faster, more affordable rate. The only problem is that sifting through terabytes or petabytes is nearly impossible to do at a high speed if you do not have a solid data-driven strategy like ours to accommodate that processing.
Embrace the change!
Not that we aren’t all winners (that Diamandis positivity really rubbed off on us) but the company who got voted “Best Startup” was Kalepso. In a similar vein as us, they are at the “Democratized” stage where even data security has been moved to the cloud and can be leveraged by any user who signs up. They present themselves as a “middle-ware” between your device and the cloud which allows users to securely store and share data.
It’s always a pleasure to see start-up fintechs succeeding especially when they are based in Montreal. In 2015, we were also voted “Best Startup” and have since evolved tremendously. Our team has doubled since and we plan to continually grow with the help from London-based Illuminate Financial Management, a venture capital firm that bridges capital market fintechs and financial institutions together.
And that’s a wrap. As you can tell, the two days were jam-packed with innovative concepts that large institutions and actually, all of us, need to think about. Please reach out if you would like a demo on how we can help you store, distribute, and/or perform analysis on your data.