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Flying the flag for fintech: How the 2018 FinTech Summit shows the sector is more relevant than ever

Fintech is much like the older, more corporate and established brother of the tech scene. Unlike its showy younger sibling that's making VR/AR and living in a run-down flat, fintech has had a lot of success, and continues to hog most of the fridge space with its awards of excellence. Although fintech is a newly coined term, it has long been synonymous to our financial systems. Last year saw the 50th anniversary for the cash machine – still frequently used to facilitate cashies – and further back in 1985, New Zealand became the first country to deploy the EFTPOS. Today, the trend of new financial technologies continues, but as financial technology gains a foothold on banking, what does this look like for New Zealand? 

The upcoming NZ Fintech Summit aims to address this, which will be held on Thursday 29 November in Auckland.

FintechNZ general manager James Brown says, “While the results from the review by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Reserve bank could have been more positive, New Zealand banks have been looking at options to improve customer experience and embrace the FinTech community which is great for all Kiwis.”

Brown continues, “technologies like machine learning and AI will dramatically improve both the customer experience and the back-end process for the banks themselves.

“This is a chance for New Zealand banks to take a lead on what customers across the globe now expect from their bank.”

Kiwibank chief executive Steve Jurkovich has said that the level of investment needs to be increased if New Zealand is to stay competitive on the global market.

“A lot of our banks are doing a great job and they are looking into different technologies, but acknowledge it might take some time.

“We are seeing a real openness to open banking and a number of the banks have 20 or 30 collaborative FinTech projects on the go.

“Open banking is going to be a good thing as it will force financial service providers to really focus on being customer-centric, which is no easy task with privacy being a critical element to getting the workings of it correct, including who owns the data and who is responsible if something is leaked.”

Banking issues have also hit the UK which has cost the banks 50 billion pounds from providing customers personal protection insurance when not asked for or required. Brown says the FMA and Reserve Bank’s findings gives an opportunity for FinTech in New Zealand to take the lead, which has been proven in the past with Eftpos that Kiwis can be global leaders.

Brown says, “New FinTechs are entering the market daily giving people choice, making for more competition and being more inclusive which is what cabinet minister Kris Faafoi wants.”

The FinTech Summit will be hosting the country’s leading financial tech specialists to join in the conversation. Speakers at the summit will delve deep into a range of FinTech topic areas including artificial intelligence, blockchain applications, user experience design, cyber security, open banking and how they will impact on a broad subset of financial services such as payments, insurance, funds management, capital raising and insurance.

The chief executive of FaceMe – a virtual assistant company – Danny Tomsett says, “The NZ FinTech summit next week is crucial for the future of financial technology in New Zealand.”

Tomsett, a key speaker at the event, says financial technology in New Zealand is facing growing tension between reducing cost to serve and maintaining margins; and investing enough into growth and improving customer experience.

“At the intersection of these, banks are hyper-focused on leveraging technology to solve this conundrum. Digital strategies have been highly effective in lowering cost to serve as well as meeting growing customer expectation,” he says.

“But this has opened banks up to new risks around the value of a physical branch and the need for people contact which has historically been a huge differentiator.

“For many businesses, emotional connection with their customers has been compromised by their digital strategy and this directly impacts on brand value, revenue growth and churn. This backdrop sets the scene for incredible innovation.”

“At FaceMe, we believe technology will increasingly be used to solve for regulation and compliance issues. In addition, customer experience will move beyond digitisation to personalisation.

“In a hyper-connected world, we’ll start to place the customer at the heart of every single innovation. Technology will empower companies to do this.”

Other speakers include Delta Insurance director Craig Kirk, Xero small business director Nicole Buisson and NZ Venture Investment Fund chief executive Richard Dellabarca.

FinTechNZ general manager James Brown says FinTech is the fastest growing segment of the New Zealand tech sector with growth of over 33 percent last year bringing an additional $220 million of exports into the New Zealand economy.

The growing number of firms engaged in the FinTech sector was recently captured in a new infographic showing just how vibrant the New Zealand fintech sector is, he says.

“I talk with my FinTech counterparts around the world and I see more and more interest in collaborative projects, investment opportunities and test bed environments for large organisations. This summit is vital for New Zealand as a digital nation heading into 2019,” Brown says.

To find out more about the event, check out the summit's website.

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