A journey to the future of the Financial Services

Round table at EIT Digital’s Networking Event

Cardless payments, facial recognition and airtime used as digital cash: Entrepreneurs, industry representatives, engineers and researchers met at EIT Digital’s Networking Event in Madrid on 23 May to discuss the future of the Financial Services Industry.

Titled “The Future of Digital Finance: Banks or Fintech”, the event started with a warm welcome from EIT Digital Spain Node Director, Jesús Contreras, followed by a keynote speech by Jose María Fuster- professor Ad Honorem at the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, Founder & CEO of Digital Innovation Ecosystems, and previously General Director of Innovation, General Director of Technology and Operations and member of the steering committee at Banco Santander. Mr. Fuster explained that “regulation is not a burden but a core technology piece” for banks. He highlighted how while fintech companies are successful in the financial services sector, “no fintech company can disrupt the core banking system”. Fuster assured that banks won’t disappear but indicated that they “need to learn how to use technology effectively”.

Mr Fuster’s speech was followed by a round table moderated by Gonzalo León, full professor in the School of Engineering and Telecommunications at the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, and Deputy Rector for Innovation and Head of the Technological Innovation Support Center at the University. Other participants were Alberto Miranda from the Consulting Division of Atos Financial Services, and Román Benito, Liberbank's Digital Innovation Manager.

All contributors agreed with Mr. Fuster that while banks won’t disappear they have lost the payment battle. "The payment model is fragmented, there is a need to create a friction-less global paying model to make it efficient", said Mr. Fuster.  Mr. Benito pointed out that “with new regulation you can make payments without a bank card, so card companies are asking themselves, what their role will be!”. He added how “fintechs were quicker at understanding customer expectations thank banks”. Mr. Miranda highlighted the necessity of knowledge transfer from fintechs to banks to keep up to date.

The second part of the event focused on how EIT Digital can help industry and researchers move forward in the fields of innovation and technology. EIT Digital’s Innovation leader, Antonio García-Hortal and David Oliva, Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School, explained how EIT Digital marries technology providers with business needs so that new startups or new products can be launched.

Roberto Costumero, a former student at EIT Digital Doctoral School, shared the experience of his journey to now be Cognitive Technology Manager at BBVA. “All journeys start somewhere, mine started here at EIT Digital”, said Costumero.

Maurizio Ferraris, Senior Manager at GFT talked about SME finances within the innovation activity funded by EIT Digital and David Moreno, CEO of Coowry, company within the EIT Digital Accelerator program, explained his different approach to payments, how airtime can be the new money. Moreno highlighted how using mobile airtime as digital cash is “easy, secure and free”.

Zoltan Hattyasy, Activity Leader at E-Group in Hungary, ended the event talking about the importance of trust in the financial sector and the role of authentication. He spoke about biometrics and facial recognition and how this method is widely used in countries like China. Mr. Hattyasy explained how the stronger privacy sentiment in Europe had prevented its use in the continent but announced a new ecosystem, fit for Europe, in the works that could be ready as early as next year.

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