Ethical AI, Corporate Governance, and the Future of Financial Services

For every conversation about AI that begins with insects, moves quickly through primates, and then launches into the stratosphere of high-minded conceptions of superintelligence, talk about artificial intelligence among executives and entrepreneurs in the financial services and fintech world is far more grounded.

This was the message from Clara Durodié, CEO of the Cognitive Finance Group and author of Decoding AI in Financial Services: Business Implications for Boards and Professionals. Among the more provocative speakers at our conference in Berlin earlier this year, Durodié is likely to make an equally strong impression in her return to Finovate as part of our all-digital FinovateAsia conference in July.

“Technology is a tool to support the business, not a toy to engage and have fun in excellence centers,” she announced early in her address to our FinovateEurope audience. “Technology in our industry is a serious tool. (Technology) needs to follow business strategy, not the other way around.” She likened the responsibility to use technology ethically and with purpose to the responsibility of earning a license to drive. Durodié made it clear that, like a driver and a passenger sitting side by side in a moving vehicle, both technology creators and technology users stand to benefit from a commitment to responsible behavior.

Businesses that embrace a more ethical approach to technology – especially a technology as powerful as AI – are also those that are most likely and able to transition away from what Durodié has called a “product-centric” today to a “customer-centric” tomorrow. She has pointed out that AI can be a powerful tool for personalization in business contexts, while simultaneously enabling companies to move to a qualitatively and quantitatively new level in terms of automated business processes.

“The work we do is around deployment of ethnical AI for business growth and profitability.”

Who makes sure this happens? While the immediate onus is clearly on the business leader, CEO, or founder, Durodié emphasized that much of the business’ leadership will – or should – come from its board of directors, particularly in high-level areas like corporate governance, business strategy, and fiduciary responsibility, where ethical guidance is paramount. “This is challenge number one,” she said of startups and their relationship with their board of directors.

And not just any board of directors. Durodié referenced a study from MIT that indicated that simply having one individual with a “technology” background on a board of directors improved the likelihood that the company working with that board would yield 38% return on assets on a yearly basis. “And if you compound that every year,” Durodié added, “you can see why the people who actually do things right from the beginning will be ahead of the game.”

For Durodié, the conversation on governance is intimately linked (“married forever”) with the conversation on ethics, and it is important that companies develop processes and systems that are “explainable, auditable, and accountable.” This is especially important when the data involved is financial data, and when the technologies to be deployed against this data are as powerful as AI.

“Financial data on our customers is highly sensitive. And we need to treat it as such and protect it as such,” Durodié said. She noted that the companies that will succeed in effectively deploying AI will understand this challenge, and have the moral compass to build tools that are “robust and helpful.” “Algorithms have parents,” she noted. “Every bias, every conditioning we have, comes through the way we generate the data and design systems. It’s very important.”

Check out Clara Durodié’s keynote address from FinovateEurope. And visit our FinovateAsia page to learn more about her upcoming participation in our all-digital, fintech summer conference in July.

Cognitive Finance Group is a specialist consultancy that advises boards of directors on best practices in the adoption, selection, and implementation of AI-based systems.

Industry Analysts Examine Fintech’s Response to the Global Health Pandemic

Just yesterday we previewed our new all-digital FinovateAsia conference coming in July. Today we’ll give you a sneak peek at some of the talent who will be providing keynote addresses at this special, mid-summer event.

Start-Ups and Digital Transformation

The first day of FinovateAsia will feature an afternoon keynote address with Chris Skinner, financial services and fintech expert, author of both the Finanser blog and the new book Doing Digital: Lessons from Leaders. Doing Digital looks at the successful digital transformations of five banks – JP Morgan Chase, BBVA, ING, DBS, and CMB – to learn how they are maximizing the opportunities that technological innovation can bring to financial services.

Skinner’s presentation – What Does COVID-19 Mean for Fintech and the Pace of Digital Change? – will look at the ways that the global health pandemic has put new strains on the financial infrastructure and examine which companies in which industries within fintech are most likely to turn the present challenge into future opportunity.

Digital Payments and Future Tech

Three keynote addresses on the second day of FinovateAsia are worth marking your calendar for. Start your day with Director of Innovation for Consult Hyperion David Birch who will provide a keynote address titled, Will COVID 19 Move Us To a Cashless Society?

Named one of the top 15 favorite sources of business information by Wired magazine and a top banking influencer, Birch has written about the various ways that society’s reaction to the coronavirus is likely to accelerate a number of technology trends that were already underway, such as the move toward digital ID. His presentation at FinovateAsia promises to be a fascinating extension of this conversation.

Later that morning, catch founder and director of Kapronasia Zennon Kapron as he discusses The Future of Real Time Payments in Asia. Kapronasia is one of the leading fintech consultancy services operating in Asia today. With more than 20 years of experience in fintech and blockchain, Kapron is also the author of Chomping at the Bitcoin: The History and Future of Bitcoin in China.

How will the Internet of Things transform financial services and how will the coronavirus impact the development of IoT are two questions that Ville Sointu, Head of Emerging Technologies for Nordea will answer in his afternoon keynote address on Day Two of FinovateAsia. With more than 15 years of experience in digital financial services, Sointu is also a member of European Commission’s Blockchain Observatory’s Use Cases and Transition Scenarios Working Group.

FinovateAsia will also feature the return of Clara Durodié, Chief Executive, Cognitive Finance Group, who is an expert on the nexus between artificial intelligence and its applications in financial services. Delivering one of the more challenging addresses of FinovateEurope in February – in which she stressed the importance of the distinctions between technologies like advanced machine learning and A.I. – Durodié joins our FinovateAsia line up to offer a similarly sobering and inspiring take on how financial services can effectively implement advanced technological innovations.

Photo by Robert Stokoe from Pexels

InvesTech and Digital Lending

Our “main stage” presentations heat up on Wednesday as four speakers provide keynote addresses. Head of European Product Management at BBH Simone Vroegop starts things off with a look at how the investment management industry is handling disruption from fintechs.

Just before lunch, Helene Li, CEO and co-founder of GoImpact Capital Partners will discuss how new technologies, new players, and new customers will drive what she calls “the democratization of wealth services.” Li will also examine the rise of digital assets and ESG investing.

That afternoon, join us for Dr. Louise Beaumont as we turn our focus toward the challenges of Lending 2.0. As more and more small businesses look to non-traditional sources of financing, will strategic partnerships between banks, financial services companies, and fintechs become critical to getting the job done? Co-chair of the Open Bank Working Group, Dr. Beaumont recently joined Finovate VP Greg Palmer on the Finovate podcast as part of his Fintech in Extraordinary Times series.

Utpal Chakraborty, Head of Artificial Intelligence for YES BANK, provides our final keynote of the day. His address, Why the Democratization and Formalization of Data in Asia Will Open Up Marketing Opportunities in Lending for All, will also look at the way enabling technologies like artificial intelligence are empowering lenders to get more capital into the hands of those underbanked small businesses and individuals who need it.

Emerging Markets, Financial Inclusion, and the Future of Fintech

On a day dedicated to financial inclusion and the future of fintech, Kapronasia’s Zennon Kapron returns to lead a conversation on the status of emerging fintech marktets in Southeast Asia. Kapron will look to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines to discern the impact of COVID-19 on the growing fintech and financial services industries of these developing countries.

Frequent Finovate speaker, moderator, and panelist Theodora Lau will provide a keynote address that takes up the relationship between technology and financial inclusion. Specifically, Lau, founder of Unconventional Ventures, will examine how the rise of platform players and superapps is helping reach previously excluded communities.

Digital Customer Experience, Regtech, and Fighting Financial Crime

One of the highlights of our final day of FinovateAsia will feature Steven Van Belleghem, whose presentation on the future of the customer experience was one of the highlights of FinovateEurope in Berlin earlier this year.

This summer, Van Belleghem will tackle the issue of the customer experience during and after the COVID-19 crisis. How will the trends he introduced to us in February – faster than real-time service, hyper-personalization, and intuitive user interfaces – survive a world of social distancing, remote learning, and lockdown? Join us in July as Van Belleghem tackles some of the questions surrounding the fate of the customer in the age of the coronavirus.

We’re still building the agenda for FinovateAsia with more speakers and special guests, so be sure to check out our FinovateAsia hub for the latest updates on what’s in store July 6 through 10.

FinovateAsia is Now Digital – Here’s Why You’ll Love it

With so much uncertainty these days, it’s nice to have something to be sure about. One thing we’re sure about is that our new digital format for FinovateAsia is going to rival the in-person version.

That’s right — FinovateAsia 2020 is now a completely digital event called FinovateAsia Digital. Given health concerns around COVID-19, running the event digitally ensures the safety of our attendees, speakers, and sponsors. It also enables attendees outside of Southeast Asia to participate, bringing more (and more diverse) opinions and perspectives to the event.

What will FinovateAsia Digital look like?

  • Extended dates
    The number of sessions will remain the same, and we will still feature all 100 of the original speakers of the event. The schedule, however, will be adjusted to make it easier for people to participate remotely. Instead of a two-day fintech immersion, everything will be spread out across five days. That means the event will now take place July 6 through July 10. With this extension, the content will be shorter each day and more manageable for digital participants.
  • Time zone
    The event will run on Singapore Time. The online agenda has been updated to reflect the new schedule so that you can see exactly what’s on when.
  • Engagement
    The digital nature of the event will make it even easier for individuals to interact with speakers. Attendees will be able to engage with the event in real-time, through Q&A with speakers, audience polling, and chat features.
  • Networking
    Making personal connections is one of the most valuable elements of an event, so we’ve worked hard to preserve it! To make sure everyone has ample time to connect with their fellow attendees, our networking app will run across all five days, helping you find and engage with others. All meetings will take place virtually via video call. To accommodate multiple time zones, the networking app will allow meetings to be scheduled 24 hours across all time zones.

Come join in the experience! If you previously booked your ticket, our customer service team has been in contact with you regarding details. If you have any questions, please reach out to