FinTech Leaders Talk Innovation in Financial Services at NG FST Summit

Takeaways from the 2019 Financial Services Technology executive event. Leaders from USAA, GFT Group, TD Bank share thoughts on future of the industry.


Technology can be a great tool to help financial services industry organizations and banks succeed, reduce cost, and improve customer experience. However, what technologies should be used, how to mitigate risk, and how to compete with competitors targeting your customers, were challenges discussed at the Financial Services Technology Summit in Denver, Colorado.

From GI to FI

The summit kicked off with the keynote speaker, Jason Edwards, Compliance Director at USAA.
Edwards spoke about his more than 20 years of IT/Cybersecurity experience in various sectors such as military/government, insurance, digital security, banking, and energy. He also spoke in depth about his experience serving as an enlisted soldier and officer in the US Army.

He explained how the Army forfeited many directionless projects and instead invested that money into technology. The money also went into training programs so soldiers could learn how to use the new tech.

For example, Edwards said the Army’s old medical kit used to contain only a few items. Now, their medical kit consists of more advanced tools such as a tourniquet which requires extensive training to use.

Edwards also tied in the future of the finance industry and cyber security, risk management, and AI. “AI is coming! Customer interaction is important. AI will give us good customer interaction with chatbots. Look at Alexa & Siri. AI is going to move into high risk areas.”

Monolith to Microservices

How do you create a monolith to microservices strategy that really works? Wayne Ross from GFT Group spoke on how continuous deployment enables multiple software releases daily, quickly and securely. He says the benefits include: improved business agility, increased competitive advantage and significant cost control capabilities across the business.

Ross explained how a tailored microservices accelerator can use technology to enable the rapid build of applications that deliver all the benefits of continuous software delivery and deployment. He explained the development process:

• Continuous integration (trunk-based development, merge and test continuously)
• Continuous delivery (integrated code packages and deployable at any time)
• Continuous deployment (every committed change deployed to production)

However, what is stopping us? Ross says architecture, tooling and metrics. That’s why we need new architecture and technologies to modernize and CI/CB enable applications, define and automate infrastructure as code, and deploy a datacenter as code.

Agile Transformation

The Chief of Staff at Citi, Alyce Reopelle, held a workshop on agile transformation. She spoke about different financial and other considerations that must be made when looking to do an agile transformation. Some of these considerations include project vs. team funding and investment funding.

“Educate your team to be aware,” said Reopelle.

She began by speaking about how financials change. She said previously, funding went to project initiatives. With agile, the focus is more on teams. “With agile- all of the requirements of a project are not known up front,” Reopelle said. “Organizational financials may not be in place to allow for multiple ‘releases’ into production.” She said financial processes in general will need to be reviewed and how internal labor capitalization may change must also be considered.

“Don’t wait until it is too late to think about how your financials may need to adjust to your new processes…”

Reopelle also explained ‘supporting teams’ and what will change. A couple of points made include:

• Supporting teams includes teams such as procurement, vendor management, legal, infrastructure, etc.
• These teams must also be considered when moving to an agile environment because often their processes are traditionally built,
• Don’t think you can just boot up the development teams because they will run into a roadblock when they need to work with supporting teams.

As for security, Reopelle said to make sure whatever applications you migrate into provide the same needs for risk and security.

Robotic Process Automation

RPA such as “real-time” bots in production and the planning/programming can help improve a business. Kent Molter, VP Business Management from TD Bank spoke about Robotic Process Automation capability and how it can benefit teams. How can RPA help a business? “Agility, scalability, and quality,” Molter said. He also listed the benefits of RPA which include:

• Revenue Increase- Increased revenue through new campaigns
• Cost Reduction- Savings through paper reduction, premises, vendor
• Customer & Employee Experience- Reduced friction through hours given back to customers and/or employees

When it comes to RPA it’s also important to prioritize processes including your “quick wins” that rank high in business impact and low complexity. Molter advised to also prioritize strategic projects, potential opportunities, and low-value projects that have a low impact.

Blockchain & AI

Why blockchain? Jay Krish from State Street Bank held a workshop on the benefits of that type of technology. He said blockchain decentralizes, it’s secure, and you can monetize it.

Krish brought up an example by referencing Walmart’s food safety problem. He said the VP of Food Safety asked people to track mangos. He said it took 2 days for people to trace the source of the produce. After, blockchain technology was used and it was able to track the source of produce in 2.2 seconds. He says if there was an e-coli outbreak, at least blockchain could find the source quicker, potentially stopping more people from getting infected.

Krish said this type of technology also has the opportunity to solve current challenges including, security, financial, establishing trust, cost, and margins. These opportunities can help several finance organizations succeed.

Full Keynote

Video poster

Watch the full keynote now, by Jason Edwards, Cybersecurity Compliance at USAA.

Real-Time Payments

The era for real-time payments in now. There is wire transfer, the clearing house, and Zelle. The industry is seeking ways to leverage new digital technologies and strip costs out of the payments ecosystem.

Philip Sprague from Wells Fargo spoke about the options in the market, customer experience integration, and risk management balance. Sprague said as of March 2019, fifteen banks have gone live on the network with a flavor of real-time payments resulting in:

• 50% of DDA’s able to receive a real-time payments
• 40% commercial accounts able to send an RTP
• 20% of retail accounts able to send an RTP

He said the opportunities are evolving for real-time payments to be used in all areas of payments. “With early use cases likely coming in business payments, personal and government scenarios,” Sprague said.

GDS Group hosts experts to help experts. We aim to provide our attendees with an atmosphere that allows them to confidently lead their companies through the largest and smallest transformation projects. For more insights like these, check out our calendar of upcoming financial services events.