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Finovate Fall 2010 Recap

As many of you know, I spent the first two days of the week attending Finovate Fall 2010 [3]. It’s billed as a demo of the cutting edge in personal finance technology and it certainly delivered the cutting edge, it’s just that the cutting edge in finance just doesn’t appear to be as sexy as the likes of other areas (pesky security issues and whatnot). Larry Chiang [4], someone I had a chance to hang out with (he’s been mentioned in [5] the past [6] on Bargaineering), said it best (and I paraphrase) – “Banking 2.0 is like Web 0.9.”

Sounds a little harsh but there is one caveat – I think there’s a lot of stuff in fraud detection and other financial technologies that is cutting edge and certainly not web 0.9. The problem is that these technologies are also invisible to folks like you and me, it excited me but it’s really relevant to bank technologists. Since they were outside the scope of Bargaineering, I won’t be covering them, but as a former software engineer some of that stuff was interesting to listen to.

I’m penning this post on the train ride home to Baltimore so much of this is fresh in my mind. I’ll do more in depth looks at some of the companies I had a chance to talk with but these were just some of my thoughts about the companies I saw.


There are a lot of personal finance management (PFM is the acronym I learned this week) applications out there! We all know the now-deadpooled Wesabe and the now-acquired Mint, but there were several at Finovate with a decidedly different feel. MoneyStrands [7] uses intelligence (and they showed me a slick looking integrated budgeting tool that I think will help a lot of people budget), Kiboo [8] facilitates conversations between parents and their kids, Pageonce [9] with their slender dashboard and powerful smart phone capabilities (fully functional PFM entirely wrapped up in an app), and of course, Yodlee [10].

Short Term Loans – Wonga

A company that I didn’t know beforehand, except in passing, was Wonga [11]. They are located in the UK, no operations in the United States, and they give short term loans (under 1,000£, fewer than 35 days). I sat with their CEO Errol and chatted for quite some time, so I got a chance to really know him, as well as his company. To say there can’t be a more standup guy than Errol in what’s really considered the “pay day loan” business would be an understatement. (case in point, they reject 70% of applicants and they don’t sell that data… most companies would sell it to their partners) I won’t be reviewing them in a separate post because they aren’t available in the United States (though they should be), which is why they get a small shout-out in this wrap-up.

Best in Show

There were 7 Best in Show awardees – Betterment, BillShrink, Bundle, Dynamics, oFlows, PayNearMe, and Secure Key. Keep on the lookout for reviews of Betterment and BillShrink’s new StatementRewards offering. The others I either didn’t get a chance to talk (Bundle, PayNearMe) to or weren’t relevant to you guys (Secure Key).

All in all, the show was great and well organized. I think that the presentation format of 7 minutes per presenter was great, it kept the demos going quick and kept them fresh. There were adequate breaks, which gave you a chance to meet with companies, meet with other attendees, and watch the presentations at your leisure (they were broadcast into the demo area). It’s no surprise Finovate often has a waiting list (I heard from a presenter that the wait list was around a hundred people).