26 July 2017

Money20/20, Europe's biggest fintech conference, saw over 6,000 delegates from more than 70 countries gather for three days of company revelations, presentations and, at times, explosive panel debates. Burges Salmon's Head of Fintech, Adrian Shedden, cuts through the hype to sum up what really created a buzz and takes a mid-term look at our Fintech Predictions for 2017.

AI and machine learning

Once the Internet of Things (IoT) goes large, sharing vast amounts of data with everything, data lakes could become data swamps. In response to this possibility, some exhibitors focused less on the Regtech elements of data compliance (see PSD2 and GDPR below) and more on providing machine learning solutions that enable banks and fintechs to focus on data modelling rather than model-building, eg Data Robot.

But Pedro Bizarro of Feedzai set the challenge for the development and use of AI as a utility: "AI is the new electricity, not oil. It will run in the background and we won’t think about it."

Midterm v our fintech prediction

The 2017 prediction of AI rescuing banking incumbents seems to be holding with some launching forays into superficial chatbots, but also jumping on the PSD2 band wagon with products like the ING-backed Yolt.

DLT and blockchain

Distributed ledger solutions – including blockchain – were on show with the likes of Ripple, R3, Hyperledger and a number of others. But its presence wasn't as brash as expected, suggesting that the hype is dying as the viability (or need) for permissioned ledger workarounds is slowing as the technology matures and shows its capabilities… and limitations. Progression towards viability seems to rest on the shoulders of open source.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

It seems we were on track to suggest most DLT ventures would remain stuck in experimentation for 2017 and we predicted major success stories would come in 2018 (if at all). The latter seems like it might come through the open source route and targeted applications (eg see BARAC under "Regtech regulators"), but we’re going to take a punt and suggest the rise of Resource Orientated Computing (ROC) – by the likes of 1060 Research – is going to obviate the need for DLT in situations where trust exists (eg payments clearance and settlement).


Talk of the challenges and opportunities of PSD2, GDPR and Open Banking was prevalent at the conference. There were mostly promises of an unleashing of consumer-centric services when it all goes live in January 2018 with strong reminders that time is running out to get compliant.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

With a  screen scraping war of words and a lack of regulatory clarity, PSD2 is certainly not off to the best of starts as was predicted.

APIs and Open Banking

Most people commenting on APIs felt like we were at a tipping point; there’s potential for open APIs to deliver the democratisation of data (and banking) for the benefit of consumers… or (as likely, according to the polls) for GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, ie not the banks) to create and exploit new markets.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

There was no prediction on APIs/Open Banking (as we rolled it into PSD2), though as a panellist said "APIs are the Lego of our generation", so let’s see what happens when people get dreaming, building, tinkering, dismantling, rebuilding through the rest of 2017!

Regtech regulators

The UK’s Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority were determined to show that the UK continues to lead on innovator regulation. But Singapore is determined to take the crown stating that it wants to relinquish control in Sandboxes to allow innovation to truly flourish – MAS throwing down the gauntlet!

Midterm v our fintech prediction

There is certainly a shift from fintech to regtech, such as the BARAC collab between UCL, the FCA, R3 and others. Most of the advances are likely to be driven in 2018 in response to MiFID II, PSD2 and GDPR landing and increasing demand due to a creaking regulatory burden.

Asia's rising dominance

In addition to the Singaporean regulator, there was more great content from the East that showed just how easy it may be for Western innovation to be leapfrogged, led by the likes of Alibaba and Tencent, together with the majority of population growth due from the Global East and South. And if you’re wondering how it might be financed, take a look at Ping An’s $1bn Global Venture Fund.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

As we set out in our predictions, Asia’s fintech development remains unpredictable… as to just how big it’s going to get and in what direction it might take global fintech.

Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion to the finance world sometimes seems like corporate responsibility to corporates – another way to get market share.  However, there were some genuine business models that sought to build on what the "unbanked", "underbanked" and "underserved" have to offer in advancing our financial products and, perhaps in time, our financial systems and economies. Though it will require a challenge to the 21st century (at times, colonialist) mindset.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

No historic predictions here, but the confluence of increasing availability and transparency information coupled with increasing open-source technology means that we are potentially at a tipping point for financial inclusion in the same manner as outlined above under "APIs and Open Banking". Watch this space!

Bristol TechFin on the international stage

We caught up with a number of Bristol’s own, including our good friends at Moneyhub, as well as Forge Rock, IBM and a number of others that have significant Bristol headquarters and hubs.

Midterm v our fintech prediction

While there was no prediction for the rise of Bristol TechFin, it’s certainly looking up. There have been significant developments at national policy level with the FCA, HMT and the APPG on fintech, regional confirmations of large-scale digital innovation programmes from the two Bristol universities and the Bristol TechFin conference in November. As a firm, 80% of our business is generated outside of the South West, but we love to see innovation at work close to home. 

Key contact

Tom Dunn

Tom Dunn Partner

  • Head of Regulated Funds and Financial Services
  • Regulated Funds
  • Financial Services


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