JAX FINANCE BLOG

JAX Finance, 3-6 April 2017
The Conference for Technology in Finance
22
Mar

Evolve or become a Commodity

No. 18 FinTech Influencer Neira Jones

No. 18 FinTech Influencer Neira Jones

We spoke with Neira Jones about trends in technology for finance, Blockchain's part in recent developments and if FinTech is still disruptive. She sees the change as a challenge for incumbents which not everyone is capable of mastering.

JAX Finance: What got you interested in FinTech?

Neira Jones:

Difficult to pinpoint other than saying I was always interested in FinTech even before the word existed. If we take the definition of FinTech, as “Computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services”, well I have been in technology all my life and started my career as a programmer, and have been in financial services for more than 20 years. So I guess FinTech as we now it was only a natural evolution.

JAX Finance: Do you think the phrase “evolve or die” describes banks’ situation right now?

Jones:

No, I don’t think “die” is the right word, it’s more a case of “Evolve or Become A Commodity”. With the advances in APIs, the regulations (e.g. PSD2) pushing for Open Banking, those organisations that can own the customer interface will get mind share. Those incumbents that do not understand this and draw strategies accordingly will be further removed from the customer experience and end up providing back-office services to those that own the UX. It means significant culture change and I have no doubt that some traditional banks will be successful at making this transformation, but others won’t.

JAX Finance: Does FinTech still deserve the label “disruptive” or has it outshined this tag?

Jones:

I think it does, but as mentioned before, it’s more a natural evolution of the industry that has been brought about with the substantial advances in technology. See my post here.

JAX Finance: What are the biggest (and most important) trends in FinTech right now?

Jones:

For me the three trends that are exciting at the minute are Artificial Intelligence (not only for new ways of interacting and operational efficiencies, but also to combat fraud and cybercrime), RegTech in all its forms given our current complex regulatory landscape (e.g. PSD2, 4 & 5AMLD, ePrivacy, MIFID, GDPR, etc.), and of course Real-Time Payments which benefit consumers and businesses alike.



JAX Finance: Do you think the investment potential will attract entrepreneurs to FinTech?

Jones: Yes.

JAX Finance: How important is blockchain in this equation? Can FinTech help it go mainstream?

Jones:

Blockchain is very relevant in very specific scenarios, but we must be careful not to think of it as the panacea to all things. I am sure my friend Dave Birch would agree with this. 

JAX Finance: What does innovation mean to you?

Jones:

First of all, innovation never happens in isolation and rarely happens by discarding current technologies and reinventing the wheel. In fact, FinTech firms almost always reuse existing infrastructure & technology and look creatively at what exists today to create breakthrough moments. Today, we have a wealth of digital potential to create ever more personalised customer experiences and these will place new products and services at the heart of the consumer’s day to day life. So I guess, for me, innovation in this context is thinking outside of the box and using technology and processes to create an even richer customer experience. Look at Amazon: whilst everyone is looking at making the payments experience shorter, slicker, more fun, they simply decided to eliminate that step altogether with Amazon Go.

JAX Finance: What does the future of finance look like?

Jones:

Who knows? Perhaps Amazon or Alibaba becoming banks … Oh, wait.

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