16 Things We Learned at Disruption Forum Fintech NYC 2022

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Maria Achinger

May 2, 2022 • 10 min read
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Embedded finance will soon become default, developer experience is something to pay more attention to, and why we should think of crypto as a force for good.

15 speakers across the fintech spectrum and over a hundred attendees met face to face at Rise New York by Barclays, to discuss current shifts in the industry and see where it’s headed.

This year, Netguru, the company behind the Disruption Forum series, bet on topics ranging from new ways of thinking about business growth and building disruptive products, promoting sustainability and inclusion in the fintech market, dynamics behind crypto and digital assets, and the rise of embedded finance and API banking.

Grab key takeaways from top fintech innovators and challenger brands.

DF Fintech NYC 2022 Netguru CEO Marek Talarczyk welcome speech

Marek Talarczyk, CEO at Netguru, opens the event

Fintech product space

Chase customer centricity

Do you sometimes feel like your team is more product-led or tech-led than client-led? No wonder. This is still the issue for many financial services companies. Tiffany Wan, Managing Director, Global Head of Product Strategy at Bank of America, said:

It’s not uncommon to see experts chasing a solution and losing sight of the client, and their problem, in the process.

Now, what you really want is for your project to be grounded in something real and tangible. Always start with an actual pain point and build your product around it.

photo from Disruption Forum panel Building Disruptive Products with an Enterprise in a Fast-Paced Market-1

From the left: Grzegorz Kosiński (Netguru), Tiffany Wan and Cory Wingerter during the panel "Building Disruptive Products with an Enterprise in a Fast-Paced Market"

Focus on business requirements

How to approach the never-ending “internal vs external development” discussion? Cory Wingerter, Global Product Head, Financial Crimes at EY, had a good piece of advice – it simply doesn’t matter as long as the business requirements are met: If you have a clear roadmap for your product or service and a good plan to stay relevant and viable, all you need is a good team to deliver on the promise. Whether it’s in-house or not, you actually want the ability not to care. Your focus should be elsewhere.

See stories in data

The most successful endeavors are the ones driven by stories that come alive when people look closely at data. Jeanniey Walden, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at DailyPay, highlighted the importance of having personal stories at the heart of solutions. How do you get there? Combine what the data tells you with customer feedback, and learn how to see the real people and their real stories.

Successful fintech innovation

Be quick with MVPs

Want to expand your company’s horizons? Have a great product idea? Challenge your assumptions! Akash Magoon, Co-founder & CTO at Nayya, made it clear: the best way to innovate is to start with an MVP and iterate, iterate, iterate until you’re onto something good. Also, speeding up the customer feedback loop is essential!

Pay attention to DX

When everybody’s talking about seamless UX, take one step back to boost Developer Experience (DX). Skyler Nesheim, SVP of Technology at Dwolla, made a great point about making sure you optimize the information flow in your team, get rid of any friction, and ensure your engineers get into dialogue with the product. The higher the quality of DX, the greater the chance for high user satisfaction.

DF panel From Ideas to Results How to Reinvent the Way Companies Innovate & Grow

From the left: Andrew Backs, Founder at Pilot44 Labs, Jeanniey Walden, Alex Sion and Akash Magoon during the panel "From Ideas to Results: How to Reinvent the Way Companies Innovate & Grow"

Don’t get locked into your ways

Holding on to what you know is a natural instinct for any business leader in a disruptive environment. Innovation is always a leap. Alex Sion, Managing Director, Head of Market Growth at Citi Ventures, discussed how the natural cycle of innovation creates problems:

When companies focus their cultural and process engines on the growth mindset, they sometimes forget what the disruptive threat is in the first place.

You need to really define your innovative angle.

DF Panel How to Promote Sustainability and Equality in the Fintech Market

From the left: Karolina Długosz (Netguru), Amantia Muhedini, and Dan Shurey during the panel "How to Promote Sustainability and Equality in the Fintech Market?"

Sustainable and inclusive fintech. Now

Set the right KPIs

Wondering how to measure your impact? Think of tools like the sustainability accounting standards board (SASB) or materiality assessments. Whatever it is you bet on, Dan Shurey, Director, Sustainable Finance at ING, pointed out it’s always a great idea to thoroughly assess the relevance of your KPIs and benchmark them against your peers, and the industry.

Open up to systems-based investing

Sustainability challenges that we face have multiple factors behind them, and there’s no simple solution to tackle them. Amantia Muhedini, Director, Sustainable Investing Strategist at UBS, noted that a good way to approach the complexity of sustainability issues is systems-based thinking and investing.

Integrate ESG risks into your other business risks

If you treat your ESG goals seriously, you need to factor them into your decision-making processes at all times. Dan Shurey, Director, Sustainable Finance at ING explained that ESG risks should be integrated into everyday business operations risks and reputational risks. If you’re a laggard in this space, what does it say about you? ESG factors can be (and increasingly are) new drivers of growth.

Use tech to advance inclusion

Opening up your product, service, or company to a diversity of experiences and perspectives is the only way to go if we are to advance our business environment and make our digital offerings and products more accessible. Stefanie Sample, CEO & Founder at Fundid, highlighted the importance of using the data in breaking down barriers and looking closer at your algorithms. Our solutions and workplaces are only as open as we are when we build them.

Crypto, digital assets, and the road ahead

Think of crypto as a force for good

As Lindsey Grossman, Business and Product Lead at Block’s Bitcoin Wallet, noted:

1.7 billion people worldwide are underbanked today because traditional financial services are not serving them well.

Cryptocurrencies have a role to play in democratizing access to financial products and services and connecting new markets.

Scale your infrastructure

Our platforms are not ready yet for institutional capital flowing into crypto. Krish Venkataraman, Head of Product, Institutional Digital Assets at Blockchain.com, named that as one of the greatest challenges in this space: if we’re serious about scaling the business, we need to think of both more flexible infrastructure, as well as proper regulations.

Focus on energy efficiency

Did you know Bitcoin needs as much power as the whole of Italy? Seems a lot, but yeah, it’s true. John Avery, Product Head, Capital Markets, Crypto & Digital Assets at FIS, said:

The only way we can move forward with blockchain-based assets and currencies is by looking closer at energy efficiency and working collaboratively on solving the issue.

Educate yourself, and your users

Ricardo Correia, Global Head of CBDC & Digital Currencies at R3, said that when it comes to crypto and DeFi, our mission is to educate and learn. This space is booming with ideas and you need to make sure you learn every day and pass on that knowledge on to future crypto users.

Embedded finance and API banking

Bring different perspectives to the table

Great frameworks and top digital experiences don’t just happen – they result from a wealth of perspectives. Jesse Owens II, Fintech and Product Strategist at Wells Fargo, put focus on the role of building diverse rooms of decision makers. If you’re after a standard that is comprehensive, flexible, and implementable for all parties involved, you need to give different people space for dialogue.

Treat embedded finance as default

Why? Cause that’s where we’re all heading. Richard Scioli, Head of Growth at Alloy, pointed out that we will eventually stop using the term, as embedded finance is already becoming a key value driver for multiple companies. Large players like Lyft or Uber managed to integrate their services with payment so seamlessly that we don’t even think of them as embedded finance players!

Missed the chance to join Disruption Forum Fintech this year?

If you’d like to get more insights from top innovators in the fintech space, stay tuned. More DF Fintech NYC 2022 quotes, and detailed panel coverage, coming up soon! Reach out to us at disruption@netguru.com

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