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Finovate 2009

Finovate 2009 is an annual event that promises to “showcase the best new financial and banking technology innovations” in the industry. The event was very professionally organized, and was a pleasure to be at. Now, the last major economic downturn was triggered by tech firms, which were subsequently bailed out by the banking industry. However, the current recession is primarily a financial crisis, and therefore, tech firms are struggling to get any sort of backing. The banks at Finovate were conspicuous only by their absence. (Charis Palmer has a detailed post on this on her blog, The Better Banking Blog 

In any case, Finovate did not disappoint in its objective. I thought all the demos were interesting and deserved to be there. I personally related to a couple of them, which I will talk about below.

The presentation by Tile Financial ( appealed to me, partly because I’m an ideal member of their target market. Their product, called “Spend, Grow, Give” is geared towards Generation Y or people in the 15-25 age group, who will control $1 Trillion of the global economy by 2025. How many banks that you know have a strong relationship with any customer in this age group? Not many, right. Tile’s product represents an impressive attempt to capture this market, early. The company calls their productive “addictive”; it seems that they are trying to match the appeal of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. 

In brief, the “Spend” section of the program is designed to show users how much they are “spending”, and to teach them basic budgeting skills. The “Give” section allows for “one-click giving” to the charitable organizations associated with Tile. However, the “Grow” section is the most exciting, (although the creators insist that it’s the “Give” section). It allows advisors to access a users portfolio and interact with them on a digital basis. It’s primary use seems to be to bridge the gap between financial institutions and the next generation of investors. This is going to be good (Think Commissions) for whichever AM service Tile ties up with, but it remains to be seen whether consumers will accept the digital platform.

Continuing with the theme of appealing to the younger Generation, Cents City ( offers an extremely well-designed product package. The way it works is that kids explore a virtual world with the help of a guru (also virtual), who guides them through missions, teaching them important money lessons in the process. As they go along, kids unlock “rewards” that are offered via Cents City (e.g. a new music album) and obviously, the parents will pay for this reward once unlocked. The program has a one-time fee of $4.95. An excellent product, if you ask me. Kids learn, parents get some return on purchases they probably would have made anyway, and Cents City gets a fair return for what it offers.

Overall -a great experience and definitely worth attending.

Disclosure: No positions