Apple Effect Evident at Innovator Gathering

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Improving the customer experience was a major theme emerging from the demos displayed during day two of FinovateFall, a two-day event showcasing financial services innovations from startups and established fintech companies.

The importance of usability and delighting customers while they are using financial services-related products was stressed more by the companies speaking this year than at previous Finovates I've attended. Call it the Apple effect catching up to banking.

Beyond the importance of the customer experience, the major story springing from the final day of FinovateFall centered on tools that help customers make "smart finance decisions" in a variety of areas, including bill payments, stocks and loans.

The banker attendees I spoke with were most floored by Dynamics Inc., which demo-ed on day one, and Mortgage Harmony Corp. Dynamics showed new cards that support magnetic stripe, chip and PIN and contactless payments, and let customers toggle between those three payment types. The product won a Best in Show award from the audience. Mortgage Harmony touted HarmonyLoan Central, which it described as a client-branded web-interface for borrowers to refinance their loans.

Here's what caught my eyes from Thursday's demos, in alphabetical order:

Credit Sesame

Fickle connectivity issues and a delay to demo didn't prevent Credit Sesame from winning a best-in-show award. And for good reason.

Credit Sesame, which offers consumers a free personal finance tool to help manage their credit and loans, pitched a new feature that lets users visually see how their credit, debt and loans stack up against their peers who are in similar age and income group.

The new comparison service comes with saving tips and the ability for consumers to set up alerts. The overall objective of Credit Sesame is to make credit and loan management as simple as possible for consumers.

Separately, Experian demonstrated a product that aims to also help consumers better understand their credit health. Unlike Credit Sesame, Experian sells its offering to banks.


In a Facebook-frenzied nation, "what's the name of your pet?" isn't a strong enough question to authenticate banking passwords.

As such, IDology pitched its authentication model that uses banking-related information to verify a person's identity rather than "shared secrets."


Not everyone likes to type — especially on a mobile device.

Broadening the way in which consumers communicate what they want to do through their mobile banking apps, financial services stalwart Fiserv (FISV) demoed mobile banking voice commands.

Though I'm not sure how much demand there is for Siri-like mobile banking services, the innovation is interesting because it gives consumers another option for how they execute their banking needs. Plus, voice commands could help facilitate more complicated banking transactions like bill pay.

USAA is one bank that has been testing out speech-recognition technology in its mobile app.


There's AA. There's help for hoarders. Now, there's a mobile app that aims to control consumers' overspending habits by acting as sponsors of sorts for spenders.

The service works like this: Consumers link their checking accounts to ImpulseSave and establish their savings goals. Then, when a consumer is shopping at Bloomingdales and lusting for Prada shoes, she can tap on ImpulseSave to receive a reminder of her larger ambition, like buying a house or a lamp in my case. Rather than buy, she can shoot some money straight into her ImpulseSave savings account.

In an era of offer overload, it's nice to see a new product pitched to curb shopaholics' tendencies. The theme of helping people save should gain traction as adoption advances in digital wallets are made. During the Digital Money Unconference, held as a pre-event to Finovate, payment pro attendees spoke about how consumers are hungering for the equivalent of weight watchers for their money.

ImpulseSave certainly is working toward that want — for now. As I tweeted earlier:

See my first day FinovateFall coverage here.

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