At a showcase at Citi in Dublin, we spoke to the six start-ups selected for the FinTech Innovation Lab accelerator programme about the challenges of bringing the start-up mentality to the financial-services sector.
Accenture and Enterprise Ireland sought out Ireland’s best early stage fin-tech companies to join the accelerator, and the six start-ups selected will, over the course of the 12-week programme, develop and road-test their products and services with guidance and mentorship provided by Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, FEXCO, Google, PayPal, State Street, Citi, Realex Payments, and Ulster Bank.
“Financial services, by their nature, are big organisations; there’s a huge amout of procurement, a lot of slow decision-making. And, of course, that doesn’t suit start-ups who desperately need quick wins and to start earning revenue and actually test their product,” said entrepreneur Maeve Kneafsey, who was at the showcase to promote CityBcon, which promises to service customers from physical retail stores to on-the-couch transactions.
Despite this apparent mismatch, the established financial services players signed up to FinTech Innovation Lab are showing a willingness to support much-needed innovation and explore new approaches. One way Kneafsey believes this could work is through paid-for pilot programmes.
“When you’re paying for a pilot, you actually make it work but, also, it improves the product. So actually making that happen really, really quickly, I think, would be a huge benefit and, obviously, speed up the process of those decisions being made,” she added.
CityBcon’s technology makes use of Apple’s low-powered Bluetooth, iBeacon, as does XtremePush, which can help clients analyse users’ online and offline behaviour in order to personalise their engagement.
What’s clear from the FinTech Innovation Lab selection is that start-ups don’t necessarily have to have a finance-based product to be of interest to the financial-services sector. For example, Videobot’s platform, described as ‘YouTube for corporates’, has been selected for its potential use to sell complex financial services and products using video.
But then there are also finance-focused start-ups such as Antuar, a branch replacement system that could disrupt traditional banking, and Signatur, whose ambition it is to build a better payment infrastructure enabling more secure, faster, cheaper and currency agnostic international payments. Security was also the concern of B-secur, which is developing a product for next-generation biometric authentication.
Financial technology image by Pressmaster via Shutterstock