Finovate London–More Old News?

This week I have attended Finovate for a second time – this time in London. I have seen the same very high energy level, extremely smooth organization, and over 1000 attendees from the financial services industry.

A full list of companies and short description of their technologies can be found here – I am not going to re-hash that. However…

Maybe I am too deeply involved in the technology innovation for financial services, but I had the distinct impression that I have not seen anything “new”. Of course, I am very familiar with the way IT experts talk, i.e.  “we have been doing cloud computing since 1973…” . I am also aware that some of the companies demonstrating/presenting have been presenting in New York last fall.

This time, I have seen many personal financial management companies, at various integration levels and with several business model – code libraries, single bank UI, and aggregation across many banks and accounts. Many ways to show and slice and dice the same transactional information – it is good to see so much energy dedicated to helping customers manager their finances, at the same time one can not escape the feeling of “me too innovation” when looking at the existing players. The one that will win will have to figure out how to integrate easily into banks back end systems, and existing online and mobile banking apps.   And invent new ways of presenting information that will make the site/app sticky…  And move to real time and analyze transaction data and provide advice at payment/purchase time…And no, adding PFM to a mobile bank app is not new anymore…

Another trend that I am still trying to grasp is  innovations related to plastic cards. All really clever and well executed ideas, but… how long will we continue to use plastics cards? Will we “put the cards in the phone”? Will we start just recording bank and account number in the phone, pay by phone, transfer money by phone, get cash from ATM by phone? and forget about plastic? I don’t know…

Last time in New York I have seen more social computing plays, not too many now. Will we see it coming to European financial services innovators in larger numbers? I hope so. As I keep hoping we will see more great new ideas in the future.