Finovate Fall 2013: Snarketing's Best-In-Show Awards

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Another Finovate conference is in the bag, once again demonstrating why it’s the premier conference in banking for technology innovation.

And again, Finovate attendees have spoken, bestowing Best-In-Show awards to six very deserving companies (who, of course, will be sure to let us know that they won this award every damn day for the next six months).

And again, the shallow FinTech community was sedUIced by fancy interfaces and pretty screenshots (hey, I did say that the winners were all deserving of their awards, though).


But here at Snarketing 2.0, we’d like to recognize some of the Shevlinovations we found in addition to the Finovations awarded at the conference:

The Nolan Ryan Award

You’re probably familiar with who Nolan Ryan is, but what you might not know is that, among modern major league baseball players, Nolan Ryan played the most seasons of any player, playing for 27 seasons between 1966 and 1993. The Nolan Ryan Award this year goes to Dynamics, who, coincidentally, presented for the 27th straight Finovate conference (or at least it seemed that way).

I like what Dynamics offers, but I can only imagine (and hope) that the reason it presents at every Finovate is that it’s making contacts and generating leads. Because the presentations aren’t very compelling, and this year’s was a step below the last one. The drawn-out discussion of the bank’s online contest had most of the people I know totally tuned out.

The John Moschitta Award

You’re probably not familiar with who John Moschitta is, and if you do know who he is, 100 Nerd points to you! Moschitta is the actor who did the fast talking in the old Fedex commercial.

The Moschitta Award for Finovate Fall 2013 goes to Josh Alexander from Toopher who managed to cram 30 minutes of presentation material into 7 minutes. Actually, he might have finished within 4 minutes. What did Josh talk about? I HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE.

The Pee Wee Herman Award

This award goes to Word Sentry. Never in my 30 years of going to conferences have I ever heard or seen the word “masturbate” used in a presentation. I’m not even comfortable putting it in this blog post. Please don’t let me get fired for this.

[FOR THE RECORD: The three companies mentioned here offer excellent technology, their business prospects are excellent, and I’m only trying to have some fun here. Oh, and avoid the situation that happened a few years back when I joked about a Finovate presentation in a blog post and some guy calls my boss to complain. DO NOT call my boss about this blog post, understand? If you don’t like me making fun of you, then make fun of ME in a blog post. That’s how you get back at me.]


In a previous blog post, I laid out three criteria for what I was looking for in a Finovate presentation: 1) Generate new revenue; 2) Significantly reduce costs; and 3) Create new moments of marketing opportunity. Based on this criteria, I saw three firms that I’d give Best-in-Show to.

Now, it isn’t that I didn’t like what Money Desktop, Yodlee and LearnVest demoed. But what they showed were new “features” — not new innovations. The ‘”innovation” is their platform — and they have all been rightfully recognized in the past for that innovation.

My best-in-show go to:

1) Deluxe/Verify Valid. I don’t get the sense that Finovate attendees were too enthralled with the idea of eChecks. Not “pretty” enough for them, I guess. But do you have any idea how much businesses pay out each year in non-salary related disbursements to consumers? US$3 trillion — and the majority of it is paid out in checks. Sitting on the train back to BOS from NY after the conference, my buddy @redphase showed me an image of a check he got from Morgan Stanley for $0.02 — which cost the company more to send than what the check itself was worth.

Card providers (rightfully) see a huge opportunity here to shift these disbursements from checks to cards. But the availability of an eCheck doesn’t require businesses to establish new platforms for making these disbursements, while reducing a significant percentage of the existing cost structure.

2) Narrative Science. Simply put, Narrative Science takes data and turns it into text. They’re getting good traction in the brokerage/asset management world where consistency in reporting, and the processing of large volumes of data is critical. My view is that there’s a big opportunity to apply NS technology to PFM. Most people don’t want to sift through data to figure out how they’re doing. NS can take the PFM and transaction data and make it accessible to the masses. I could even envision banks using NS-generated text to append to monthly statements — and using that analysis and interpretation to help drive customers online to see more through online PFM. In the brokerage/asset management context, there’s real costs that can be reduced. In the retail banking setting, I think this helps create new moments of marketing opportunity.

3) Phony Invoices. I joked on Twitter when PI presented that “if these guys can teach me how to send out phony invoices, they’ll get my vote for best-in-show.” Well, they didn’t do that, but they’re still getting my vote. Their technology for predicting and identifying invoice fraud looks pretty good, and the interface is good enough to impress even the shallowest FinTech geek.


Announcing Finovate Presenter Coaching

OK, future Finovate presenters, listen up: Many of you need (or will need) help with your Finovate presentations. One small slip up, one utterance of the wrong word, a goofy, contrived skit — and the audience flips the Bozo Bit on you. I’m going to help you avoid all that, and construct a 7 minute presentation that gets you respected, and gets you noticed. I can’t guarantee you Best-In-Show, but I know I can help you avoid the pitfalls. 

Here’s how it will work: When you engage me to help you, before you even begin to put together a presentation, we’ll spend an hour on the phone, and I’ll give you advice for how to construct your presentation, and point you to videos of successful presentations (not just those that won B-I-S). After you’ve pulled something together, we’ll do either a video Skype call or Google Hangout for you to walk through your presentation, and I’ll critique it and make recommendations on how the change it. 

For an additional investment on your part, I will script out the presentation for you if need be.

If you’re an Aite Group client, I’ll do the first part (upfront advice) for free.

If you’re interested in this, let me know and we can talk price. I can guarantee you this: It will be well worth your investment in this to protect the larger investment you’re making in paying Finovate to present, and the cost in dollars and resources to take valuable executive time to travel to the conference.

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