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Beyond Trendy: Fintech Themes at FinovateFall

We have 70+ demo companies at this year’s FinovateFall event, taking place September 13 through 15 online and in-person in New York City. These demos, combined with a full lineup of keynotes and panel discussions, will bring a wide variety of themes. To get an idea of what’s trending this year, we’re taking a look at the key themes repeated throughout both the demos and the discussions.

For the demos, we’ve distilled the themes into five major categories, as outlined below.


Today’s data discussions transcend the conversations of Big Data that were en vogue in 2015. This year, data is everywhere; it touches everything. Companies will be looking at how they can help gather, clean, and analyze data; how they can place the customer in charge of their own data while allowing the firm to leverage consumer data; and how they can collaborate with others around data. They will also be discussing specific use cases such as receipt data and pulling data from paper documents. At this year’s event, seemingly everything is data-driven.

Fraud prevention & compliance

We can expect to see solutions to prevent financial crime at pretty much every event. Fraud is ubiquitous in financial services because bad actors consistently benefit from it. This fintech sub-sector is continuously evolving as hackers become more and more cunning. And this year, we’ve noticed the addition of more compliance tools to assist with regulations and audits around fraud.

Digital assistant

With the Delta variant in full force, we still have not entered a post-COVID world. Given that our social distancing habits must persist, companies are investing more energy in developing digital assistants. No matter how you may feel about chatbots, they have proven to be a viable way to communicate with clients when in person discussions are no longer an option. And this theme goes beyond chatbots. Digital assistants including AI-powered call centers and automated customer interactions of all types are rising up to help take the burden off of customer service agents during a time when in-branch conversations are not possible.

Customer engagement

Another byproduct of COVID’s aftermath, customer engagement technologies continue to be front-and-center on the minds of banks, fintechs, and (of course) consumers alike. Because so much of our lives currently takes place online, customers now expect an engaging, personalized customer experience.

One of the ways financial firms are tackling this challenge is by creating a gamified user experience. By taking wha typically is viewed as a chore and making it into something fun, customers are more likely to use and return to an app or an online experience.

Another key to customer engagement is, of course, personalization. By leveraging data to center the user experience around the customer’s needs, fintechs and banks can ensure to captivate their existing client base and reign in new ones.

Financial planning and investing

The roboadvisor craze of 2015 has matured, and has left a number of powerful fintechs in its wake. This is thanks to increased popularity combined with enabling technologies of the new decade. Unlike the first wave of roboadvisory tools, today’s offerings tend to take a more holistic and personalized approach. At this year’s event, we’ll see tools that look at consumers’ financial wellness as a whole, not just their retirement savings.

Another difference from early wealthtech tools is that more of today’s offerings are B2B instead of strictly B2C. At FinovateFall 2021, we’ll see tools that help advisors create more value for their clients and products for employers to help their workforce build better financial health.

What’s missing?

Notably absent from this list are two major themes I would have expected to see. The first is Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), the payment technology that allows customers to pay for purchases in installments after receiving the product. Companies like Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, and Sezzle have popularized BNPL, and many retailers and payment companies alike have implemented various versions of this model. Given the seemingly viral nature of BNPL, it’s surprising that only a single demo company, Zeta, offers BNPL technology.

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The second missing piece this year is AI, which has been a top trend for years. So how can discussions of such a pervasive theme be so absent? The answer is in the question; AI is so pervasive that it has now become table stakes for every fintech sub-sector. In other words, AI has blended into the background. If firms want to compete and offer worthwhile products and services, they must, at a minimum, be leveraging AI.

FinovateFall won’t just be about the demos. We have an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, panelists, and fireside chats to share a range of perspectives on today’s hottest fintech topics. While you’re at the event, keep an eye out for the following themes:

  • Cybersecurity & financial crime
  • Neobanks
  • ESG
  • Financial inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Automation
  • Open finance
  • Wealth management
  • Digital transformation
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Faster payments
  • Customer experience

We’re so excited to return to New York this year! We’ll see you either online or in person starting September 13 at 8 a.m. Eastern time and continuing through the 15th. Book your tickets here.

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

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