Netguru, the global software consulting company, hosted its fourth Disruption Forum at Work-Bench NYC last week as part of Empire Startups’ New York Fintech Week. The event hosted more than 250 attendees, who gleaned learnings from experts at leading fintech companies such as N26, Plaid, Betterment, Ellevest and more.
The Disruption Forum was broken into four separate panel discussions – each focusing on a trending topic within fintech – and explored specific challenges facing the industry.
The first part of the event explored trends within product, growth and AI. Product is increasingly becoming one of the most important aspects in the fintech industry and developing a top product has become absolutely crucial to a fintech company’s bottom line. As AI becomes more integrated in fintech products, companies are now utilizing data at a large scale to improve their services
“You have to give the machine good data for it to learn and give you insights. You want the machine to figure out what’s important and what’s not important. At the end of the day all of this data is useless if you’re not getting any insights out of it,” said Farrah Lakhani from OakNorthAI, a company which analyzes data to fund business loans.
The most prominent discussion of the evening focused on the European fintech industry and how European fintech startups can penetrate the US market. This panel featured representatives from four leading European fintech companies, including Andrew Boyajian, head of banking, North America, TransferWise; Dan Westgarth, North American GM, Revolut; Arshi Singh, North America head of product, Currencycloud; and Nicolas Kopp, U.S. CEO, N26, which is planning a US expansion in the first half of 2019. Although the US market is a focus point for many of these companies, Europe is still at the forefront of fintech innovation – surpassing the US by nearly €100 million in high-profile venture capital deals in the space this year alone.
The main points of conversation within the panel discussion focused on opportunity and regulation. Although there is immense opportunity in the United States for many of these EU-based fintech companies, US expansion is not easy to achieve. There are many barriers to entry including cultural differences, customer trust, logistical barriers, language barriers, and banks being risk averse, among others. The primary challenge with US expansion is the immense differences and complexities of the regulatory requirements within the regions – which has thrown a wrench in market expansion plans for many of these organizations. Most fintech companies have resorted to utilizing partnerships or charters with US banks to expand into the US market.
As some of the panelists noted, this is a much different approach than what’s seen in Europe.
“The UK went the opposite way [compared to the US] and made it very lax for fintechs so they could compete with banks,” said Arshi Singh from Currencycloud.
Even though there are regulatory difficulties, the US market was described as a unique opportunity with vast potential by most of the panelists. As the industry grows they hope to see innovation in compliance areas and in a variety of other fintech applications, including fintech for the disabled.