Imagine FINTECH @ TiE inflect 2018

A tech executive waxes effusive on the focus on Fintech at the annual event

Column: Niharika Srivastav


The Fintech track at TiEinflect 2018 started with an opening keynote on the changing world of AI startups – up 4.6 times in the last five years.

The speaker, Anju Patwardhan, managing director – Creditease, extolled the power of AI, comparing it to electricity, which began transforming the world 100 years ago.

Some jobs will disappear, no doubt, she conceded, those being of drivers, radiologists, assembly workers and the like. But she said there would be new ones created – for genetic counselors, product designers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and more. Ultimately, she said, the bottom line is that AI will create more jobs than it takes.

Niharika Srivastav

The informative keynote was followed by some insightful panel discussions. The first was on ‘Innovation in Digital Payments with AI,’ moderated by Vijay Sondhi, an entrepreneur and FinTech expert. The panel dwelt on how the best user experience for payments is no user experience at all, in that users will have to put in minimum effort. Payments are increasingly becoming invisible. From cards to phones to IoT devices the brave new world for payments hasn’t been more exciting. Data and insights have been around for years; but self-learning algorithms today have brought about many breakthroughs using AI. The panelists were Sanjay Saraf from Yapstone, Amarpreet from Square, Musab Saleh from eBay, and Jagdeep Singh Sahota from JP Morgan Chase.

The panel on banking and financial services panel was diverse, moderated by Madhu Iyer, from a VC and startup space. The panelists’ affiliations ranged from an innovation lab in a big bank to traditional commercial banks and service providers. Ir was agreed that banking and financial services are in hyper-innovative transition. Everything from AI to blockchain and between was covered. Fraud detection using AI was also addressed. The participants were Amar Rathor from Standard Chartered Bank, Ashwini Achutha from Infosys, and Ashish Kapur from Bank of the West.

The last panel, titled ‘Startup panel: Emerging technology & business models’ panel, discussed how AI, blockchain and machine learning can transform risk management, digital marketing and cash management. My key takeaways were that the success drivers are user experience (frictionless), credit worthiness/risk assessment (as accurate as possible) and customer acquisition cost (as low as possible). The key is to create the right balance of these success factors. Moderated by Paddy Ramanathan from iValley Innovation Center, the panel included Ken So of Flowcast Labs, Amy Guarino of Kyndi, Inc, Alex Fedesseev of 1World Online, and Prakash Goswami of VestEdu.

In the closing keynote, Christa Steele of Boardroom Consulting talked about banking and the “vortex of technology.” She felt that Fintech’s barrier to entry involved a dearth of knowledge, slow adoption, a variety of new platforms, and a failure to monetize customer acquisition traction.

The bottomline is that fantastic times lie ahead. The way we handle finances will change dramatically, and soon we may dispense with plastic and paper money.

It was a pleasure for me to host the TiEinflect 2018 Fintech track with Veena Gundavelli , Prakash Goswami, Lomesh Dutta, USS Srinivasa. TiEinflect Co-Convener R Paul Singh gave me a wonderful opportunity and connected me with the motivated Fintech track team.

Niharika Srivastav is a technology executive at UST Global, a digital transformation company. She is also the head of WITI (Women in Technology International) San Francisco East Bay Network.

The views expressed in this column are her own though it draws from inputs from Sanjay Saxena, a technology executive in Silicon Valley who attended the conference.

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