11/18/2020—Through AI, big data, machine learning, and blockchain, fintech is disrupting the financial services industry at the same time that it generates extraordinary new business opportunities.
To address these issues,The Global Research and Industry Alliance (GLORIA) project presented Paving for the Future: How Technology drives Fintech, a YouTube seminar and match-making event that connected a select group of promising fintech startups with experts, investors, and industry professionals. The event also included 3 keynote sessions by leading researchers and finance experts who shared insights into upcoming fintech trends and what startups need to know, what investors are looking for, and the crucial role of fintech in digital transformation.
Keynote speakers included Chuan-Hsiang Han, professor and Co-PI of the Industry-Academia Alliance for Internet Financial Innovation (NetFin) at National Tsing-Hua University; Professor Ming-hua Hsieh, director of the Digital Finance Innovation Lab at National Chengchi University; and Dr. Ko-Yang Wang, founder and chairman of Taiwan Fintech.
Professor Han introduced viewers to NetFin, a Ministry of Science and Technology-funded organization that supports industry/academia collaboration, noting that the alliance works to cultivate promising talent and seek out partners involved in AI and machine learning, blockchain, cloud-based platforms, and digital transformation. NetFin coordinates research projects and tech transfers and engages in fund-raising and promotion.
Han pointed out that fintech startups face distinct obstacles in the local ecosystem. The strict regulation of Taiwan’s financial services industry hampers the introduction of fintech, the local B2B market is limited in scope, and customer acquisition costs can be formidable for startup companies. To succeed in this environment, a company must have a competitive product and pricing, a track record of customer satisfaction, and a clear marketing plan.
Professor Hsieh stressed the vital importance to companies of remaining at the forefront of digital transformation, noting that even major retailers—such as Sears and Toys R Us—who failed to adapt their business models have found themselves facing bankruptcy and closure in the past decade, while companies such as Walmart that have continuously adapted to the changing ecosystem are thriving. He noted that Taiwan’s financial services industry needs to adapt quickly, and should be prepared to partner up with fintech companies to introduce technologies such as AI, blockchain, chatbots, APIs in order to remain competitive and not fall behind.
In the final keynote speech of the event, Dr. Wang discussed the benefits of adopting an open ecosystem model with inclusive financial services. He pointed out that the changes that will take place over the next decade will surpass those of the past 600 years, and that the future of finance depends on the fusion of financial services companies with other industries. Companies need to be agile and willing to move rapidly to adopt AI and blockchain, moves that are very difficult in Taiwan’s highly regulated industry.
During the ensuing panel discussion, led by moderator Yehning Chen, professor and Deputy Director of FinTech@NTU, Wang noted that fintech startups need data and customers, while financial services institutions need to change their traditional business models, so collaboration between these entities is essential to the survival of both.
Following the panel discussion, the eight teams pitched their products, many of which show great promise for advancing digital transformation in the financial services industry. First up was AuthMe, whose proprietary ID authentication system helps speed up and streamline the customer onboarding process. By leveraging deep learning technology to develop facial recognition and liveness detection, Authme can cut the user registration time by 90%, save over 70% of KYC manpower review costs, and provide 100% assurance of certificate authenticity, even protecting against deepfakes.
Next up was BaaSid, whose name stands for Blockchain as a Service in data. BaaSid has developed next-generation security technology that utilizes blockchain to ensure data security. The use of blockchain technology to provide encrypted, decentralized storage of sensitive information is a powerful tool in the fight against hackers. BaaSid’s technology is highly scalable and can support IT-based data storage, IoT, and the financial services industry. It is the perfect solution for online banking, shopping, and payments, as well as entrance security and remote work authentication.
Ret[AI]ling Data Enterprise Corporation uses smart technology to help retailers achieve digital transformation. Retailers can use the company’s map app that conducts geo-analysis of power use, food consumption, receipt, and traffic flow to determine the most ideal locations for different types of business, from food stands to high end clothing boutiques. The company’s interactive in-store signage uses facial recognition technology to determine factors such as age and gender and then produce targeted advertising to stimulate shopping. For clothing retailers, the company offers a ‘magic mirror’ which allows customers to ‘try on’ clothing digitally before selecting the items they want to take to the changing room.
Rounding out the first group of presenters was ThinkCloud, a Taiwanese start-up that has developed a dynamic biometric e-signature (DBS) system known as SelfieSign. SelfieSign eliminates the need for printing out, signing, and scanning contracts and other documents which require a legal signature by utilizing a facial biometric system to validate the signer. The system is designed to detect deepfakes and other forms of fraud, providing a secure solution for the e-government, finance, banking, e-commerce, and other industries that are dependent on electronic documents.
After a short break for questions and comments, the second group of teams took the stage. First on was Credidi, a fintech startup that created a Taiwan-based Chinese language app that provides users with credit scores derived from big data. Credidi is aimed at younger users who may struggle to gain a formal credit rating in Taiwan’s conservative banking industry. The app analyzes financial and purchase data to encourage smart financial decision-making that builds credit. The credit can then be applied to vehicle rentals, to build credit for credit cards, screen potential roommates, and more.
Cardbo helps consumers as well as banks and other financial institutions resolve confusion over digital payment offers. The company has developed an exclusive search engine that helps customers make smarter shopping decisions by analyzing their credit cards for the best card offer for any store or product category. Financial institutions and on- and offline retailers can use the service to determine which offers are likely to attract the most customers.
With regulation on the rise, conducting due diligence to verify customer identification and prevent fraud is becoming an increasingly burdensome task for banks and other financial service institutions. In response to this issue, KryptoGo has developed a smart and secure due diligence platform that uses a wide range of national databases to carry out automated background checks, decreasing the time spent on customer identity verification by up to 80%. Kryptogo’s platform is especially useful in the Chinese language market, since it resolves the name and surname duplication and differentiation issues that commonly crop up in local identity investigations.
The final pitch of the event was presented by AICOTS, an investment platform that enables users to keep tabs on market trends, select trading strategies with different risk levels, do backtesting online, and paper trading to test for robustness. The platforms ML algorithm allows investors to optimize their investing strategies over time. Users can also become strategy providers who share investment ideas with the AICOTS community.
About GLORIA - The Global Research and Industry Alliance
Building Taiwan’s University-Industry Innovative Ecosystem. The Ministry of Science and Technology launched the The Global Research and Industry Alliance (GLORIA) project in 2017 in order to transform excellent research into industry applications, aiming to create an innovative ecosystem that allows universities’ research to repeat a process of discovery, development, promotion, and commercialization, respectively.