Stars of Finovate 2014


Finovate Europe, London’s biggest annual fintech event took place on 11 and 12 February and drew presenters and attendees from all over Europe to pitch their solutions. Ellie Chambers and Valentina Romeo report from Finovate and pick out some of then highlights

In the programme that attendees receive on arriving at Finovate Europe 2014, there is a list of things you should know about the event.

At the top of the list is a bulletpoint that says: "The companies only have seven minutes on stage.

"The demos will come fast and furious, so get ready!"

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True to the programme, the demos come thick and fast, with barely time for a company to pitch before they are hustled off-stage in a way that’s neatly analogous to the pace of developments in the fintech world.

There are a few notable trends amongst the presentations, one of which being the proliferation of mobile photo capture solutions.

The timing suggests companies could be taking advantage of the impending arrival of remote cheque deposit in the UK – the British government said in December that in 2014 it would consult on legislation to allow the paying in of cheques by smartphone.

Barclays, meanwhile, announced a pilot scheme for photo cheque payments on 2 January.

Kofax – mobile document capture

Kofax, Xpenditure, Top Image Systems and PhotoPay, amongst others, are presenting on applications based around the ability to capture cheques, ID documents and more with the camera on a mobile phone.

Kofax’s offering takes the idea a step further by allowing users to use the software to set up an account or carry out other complex activities, verifying their identity in-app through a video chat.

Kofax senior vice president of mobile, Drew Hyatt, says: "We are going to change the way the world banks.

"The consumers don’t like going into branch – Kofax turns mobile phones into intelligent document capture. "It’s like having a little banker in your phone."

Along with mobile capture, cross-border is a key theme for many of the companies presenting, whether talking in terms of currency transfers, with The Currency Cloud and CurrencyTransfer, or international mobile SIM cards, with Truphone.

CurrencyTransfer – SME foreign exchange transfers

CurrencyTransfer is launching a site that functions as a marketplace or comparison website for foreign exchange, allowing transfers of as little as £100 ($167) into alternative currencies. will be aimed at SMEs, whereas existing sites and cater for consumers.

The product already offers the currencies of over 120 countries and expects to add more in the not-too-distant future.

Co-founder Daniel Abrahams says: "We’re an online marketplace that matches businesses with the most competitive foreign exchange quotes.

"We see a world where business foreign exchange is as easy and straightforward as booking a plane ticket.

"It gives SME exporter-importers the ability to say: "I need to transfer from GBP to USD", aggregate live rates from a live marketplace and pick the winner, almost inviting brokers to bid for your business – which is a very powerful position to be in."

GMC – Mobile sales

GMC Software Technology (GMC), the Switzerland-headquartered customer communications management company, showcased its latest mobile sales application.

This app helps banking employees to sell products and services in real-time aiming to improve customer conversion rates, increasing interactivity and speeding up communication.

The Mobile Onboarding program allows the selling of loans, mortgages and other products to create and send policy documents, based on customers’ requirements.

"The platform has already been running in the top 10 financial institutions globally," Antoine Hemon-Laurens, director of mobile products marketing, GMC tells EPI.

Hemon-Laurens explains: "On completing the process, clients are sent a digital dynamic welcome kit where they can click on different sections, drill down to areas of interest and view all their signed documents electronically. The welcome kit and all documents can be accessed on any PC or mobile device supporting a completely paperless end-to-end client on-boarding process."

According to GMC, using this technology, staff can sign up customers in minutes. The company claims the previous paper-based process could take up to 14 to 39 days.

With an increase in speed and conversion banks should see a boost to revenue by cross-selling and up-selling products. Hemon-Laurens believes banks could increase their retail revenues by over 30%.

Vaamo – financial planning app

German financial services start-up Vaamo presented their new platform software to the public for the first time at FinovateEurope.

Vaamo is a financial planning app enabling people to set and work towards their financial goals (e.g. retirement, new home) with a personalised monitoring system.

The platform provides online investment management tools that focus on planning and achieving specific financial targets.

The Finovate demo presented various examples of personal financial plans and showed how and when a person could achieve their goals with three mouse clicks.

All the inputs related to the financial goals are illustrated in charts, which project future performance and risks, aimed at helping customers understand the impact of their plans.

In contrast to traditional bank products, Vaamo customers can save their money without minimum investment or duration, and pay only one fee.

Vaamo claims to be accessible to customers without any financial knowledge.

"The issue for most bank customers in Germany is that saving and investing money is way too complicated and cumbersome. We solve this issue by radical simplification via our clear focus on customers’ personal savings goals and the strict limitation of product choice to only one investment strategy", explains Oliver Vins, Vaamo co-founder and responsible for product development and IT.

Developed in cooperation with Goethe University Frankfurt, Vaamo’s soft launch will be in the spring of 2014.