Navigating FinServ Complexity: 12 Fintech Rockers on Innovation and the Road Ahead

Efi Pylarinou
11 min readJan 12, 2024

Trust must be earned is the motto of the Swiss FintechRockers club. We are all Fintechers and as you will see from the diverse perspectives, Fintechers have no boundaries. They are in so many domains and bring insights from a variety of technologies, trends, and advancements in business models.

This article includes 12 reflections I’ve curated with each person`s 2024 top of mind insights. Read it all or pick selectively what seems more interesting to you. There is something for everyone: of course, AI in finserv, Web3, Exponential Tech, Regulation, Open Banking, Financial Wellness, …

The nature of Open Banking

With a vision of Open Economy, we envision a much broader OpenX Ecosystem, involving actors from other industries such as water and electricity providers, property management companies, mobility service providers, government agencies like tax authorities or land registries, as well as courier and logistics companies.

The keyword here is Public-Private Partnership. However, the core philosophy of Open Banking should always remain at the forefront of all Open “X” activities: empowering customers to have control over their data and making it available to third-party services through APIs to foster more innovation, transparency, and choice for the customers.

Ralph Hutter, Head Ecosystems & Partnerships, Finnova.

Regulations strangling Innovation

Banks are not allowed to innovate.

One of the upcoming regulations aims to accelerate the clearing and settlement of payments as well as securities. In payments that means the 10 seconds 24/7/365 rule and in securities the upcoming T+1 and sometimes T+0 requirements.

But is this really what the clients want?

Probably nobody cares if his energy provider receives the money in 10 seconds, in 1 hour or the next day after paying the invoice.

The fact is, there are tremendous investments in Banking IT needed for changing standards, formats, processes, and technology due to all these regulatory requirements just to become faster.

My new year thoughts are:

Remember Kenya. They have leapfrogged several payment technology stages becoming the country with the widest usage of mobile payments without going through the online banking laptop process like we have been.

I ask myself, why in the Western world do we need to spend billions incrementally improving basic and very often old technology and not “leapfrogging” directly to digital transactions where we get “atomic settlement”? And Atomic means really Instant and not 10 seconds.

The short answer is: Because a regulator must justify himself by “regulating things” while life goes on as if all is good.

Banks want to innovate but are forced to incrementation.
Much less regulation and more entrepreneurial freedom in Banking and especially in Fintech is needed, also regarding to the predicted “utopic” future with AI.
(Spoiler, I look forward to AI which will improve all our lives)

I wish a successful 2024 to all of us with fewer regulations and more freedom for real innovation!

Oscar Neira, Head Sales & Marketing,

A legal perspective on Regulation

Technological progress and the associated trends and innovations influence the regulation of the Swiss financial center — or is it the other way around? As a lawyer specializing in innovation in the financial sector, this question keeps coming back to me. There is probably no general answer. Innovations such as distributed ledger technology (DLT) require adjustments to regulation in order to create a stable legal framework.

At the same time, EU regulations influence Switzerland’s competitiveness. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the financial sector, on the other hand, shows how technology can be used within the existing legal framework — although one or two legal adjustments will probably also be necessary in connection with this technology. A balanced regulatory approach is necessary to promote innovation and ensure the security of the financial market.

Prof. Dr. iur. Cornelia Stengel Law Firm Partner Kellerhals Carrard

Digital Assets & AI — les amoureux ?

Reflecting on 2023, we’ve seen digital assets emerge as transformative forces in business, offering decentralization and global access that challenge traditional financial norms. My distinct experience in the finance industry highlights their revolutionary potential, especially when combined with AI’s advanced analytics. This synergy has opened new avenues for innovative business models. Looking ahead to 2024, I urge innovators and financial institutions to further explore and practically apply digital assets and AI, aiming to build on this year’s progress for substantial, industry-wide innovations

Patrick Schöni, Partner at vision&

Exponential Technologies — to the moon

The advent of digitalization started with a bang in the 90’ies — Fast forward to today, with quantum, VR/AR, progress in AI, cloud, blockchain, web3, virtual worlds, etc. all together create a metaverse, a matrix that shapes the way we live and work in the future. — Pair this with longevity, smart mobility & smart cities, we are at the brink of a new exponential tech-induced world only the boldest of minds could have ever imagined.

Dr. Daniel Diemers, Co-Founder SNGLR

The challenge of branding in Web3

The emergence of Web3 technologies heralds significant benefits, marking a shift in how the ‘new’ internet engages users. This transformation is defined by giving control back to users through ownership, reshaping brand interactions with interoperability, and enhancing the user experience through programmability.

The ‘new’ internet will affect all of us and promises to be more personalized, democratic, and interactive, representing a groundbreaking shift for business and society.

However, there is a notable gap in Web3: the realm of branding. Often overshadowed by the focus on technology development, the role of branding in building trust, identity, and close user connection has been undervalued.

A captivating brand narrative, rooted in a distinct brand essence, is essential for any brand and becomes even more critical in competitive markets. This narrative should be crafted around the core values and the product’s problem-solving benefits.

I encourage both Web3 protocols and technology brands at large, which often lack impactful branding. As you develop cutting-edge technology, remember your most important asset: your brand.

It’s vital to engage with your audience in a manner that enhances your brand’s visibility and relevance and resonates in a language they comprehend, positioning your brand at the forefront of their minds.

Let us address the challenge of branding in 2024!

Patrick Urban, Brand Growth Architect for Tech & Web3

Complexity, Change, and User Confusion

The financial industry has probably never been in such a state of flux as in the past ten years.

Not just the financial industry, the entire economy. But the times when, for example, a bank was just a bank like decades before, are long gone.

What has already had a major impact on 2023 will have an even greater influence on 2024. This is mainly because developments and technologies in specific areas can increasingly be linked to developments in other areas.

This will have an impact in areas such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, DeFi, tokenization, Web3, metaverse, AI, payments, instant payments, open finance, BaaS, embedded finance, and more. Areas are combining, reinforcing each other and this will increase the speed of change.

What will become more important in the upcoming years: We need to explain and prove to people what all the technologies and developments mean for them. What they will do for them. If financial life becomes noticeably simpler and more convenient for people in their everyday lives, the proof is already in the pudding.

In other areas, a little extra help is needed. So that people can decide: What is new, what brings additional benefits and convenience or what opens brand-new doors to opportunities that were not possible before.

In B2C, those technologies that have been conceived and developed from the perspective of consumers will be the most successful. The number of consumers is much higher than the number of developers and technologists. That´s why we are well advised to consistently set people right in the center and take all these people along with us in 2024 on the journey that will massively change the financial industry in the coming years.

Ruedi Maeder, Editor-in-Chief,

Financial Wellness Challenges & Opportunities

The way financial services are being delivered and experienced by customers is fundamentally changing. 2023, we witnessed the increasing use of AI in a variety of fintech use cases, ranging from fraud prevention to applications in customer service. According to research, 30% of US customers have already been interacting with their banks through a chatbot. One of the most significant changes AI will bring to fintech is increased personalization. By leveraging AI algorithms capable of analyzing vast amounts of data, FinTech companies can offer increasingly tailor-made financial advice, investment strategies, and spending recommendations. This has the potential to revolutionize customer engagement by providing more relevant, timely, and proactive financial solutions.

But the question arises: are customers ready for this shift? In my experience educating thousands of people on personal finance every year, many are loyal to their current bank and one of the biggest obstacles in engagement is choice paralysis.

With increasing specialization, the provider landscape becomes more fragmented and hence confusing for users. What tool to pick for what service? How many tools does one need to manage one’s financial life effectively? And with this fragmentation, is this the time where increased consolidation will take place, making room for AI-powered financial super-apps that not only provide personalized financial services but also a holistic financial wellness center?

To make finance personal and useful, it needs to integrate with people’s lives. An evolved approach would link finances to personal health and professional development, allowing everyone to build an abundant life. That is what I am excited about, exploring and building in 2024 with SmartPurse — a new holistic approach to financial wellness that reaches beyond transactional investment and budgeting, and puts people and their lives in sync with their finances — stay tuned!

Olga Miler, co-Founder & CEO of SmartPurse

Bridging the Gap: Moving from AI Theory to Practical Big Data Implementation in Companies

While management discusses the potential of AI, the workforce often grapples with fundamental challenges in basic data processing. To bridge this gap, companies must focus on the convergence of AI and big data to enhance various aspects, such as conversion optimization, performance enhancement, behavioral insights and client experience.

In my view, many companies need to address first those fundamentals of basic data processing before trying to integrate big data with AI applications.

Andy Waar, entrepreneur and member in various boards, such as KImpact -(Künstliche Intelligenz -> German AI). KImpact is a young, fast-growing hub for AI enthusiasts, ranging from individuals to innovative companies with a goal is to share knowledge, learn together, and shape a positive AI future for the benefit of society. Through our network, we want to achieve ‘impact’ on society and politics. KImpact aims to become the central point of contact for the topic of AI in the DACH region.

Operationalizing GenAI in Banking

As we move into 2024, I am thrilled at the prospect of diving deeper into the evolving landscape of GenAI in the banking sector. It’s a year where collaborative efforts with professionals will be key to operationalizing AI in practical, impactful ways. My aim is to be at the forefront of creating such a “marketplace” that spans various capabilities in this technology area. This initiative needs a holistic approach, blending technological prowess with business acumen and cultural change. By fostering such synergistic partnerships, we can fully exploit AI, LLM, and related technologies, paving the way for revolutionary changes in our services and operational models.

Eric Salzmann, Product Owner for Innovation at Vontobel

AI-generated content issues

In 2023, a fair amount of content was created by AI. By now, countless tools are offering help to creators with ideas, text, images, and videos in different languages. Even podcasts, one of the most personal formats, are created from text using AI. This increases the reach. Unfortunately, it will also increase the number of fakes.

People want to listen to an authentic human communication. By 2024, I expect to see digital signatures for content. A signature that assures users that the content was created by a human.

Tools will be perfected in 2024 and the flood of content will increase. If you want to achieve your goals with content, avoid purely informative, interchangeable content. Provide

consistently useful content that helps people progress, content that builds relationships.

Communities no longer only exchange information in real life. Only authentic people are accepted as ambassadors in such groups. Companies/Providers will only be convincing if prospect customers feel addressed and heard.

The time of individuals with multiple avatars is yet to come, probably not in 2024. I hope so, to be honest.

Su Franke, Consultant and lecturer for strategic marketing

Can Financial Services Rise to Meet Mounting Economic Challenges?

Complexity is increasing despite the proliferation of data analytics, the explosion of data, and all the technological advancements (AI, 5G, GPUs, Blockchain, IOT, etc.). Business leaders are increasingly living on the edge as poly-crises (multiple interconnected risks) are no longer rare.

Financial Services are core to all economic activities whether the market capitalization of the financial sector confirms it or not. The big question going forward is whether our sector (Finserv which includes incumbents and Fintechs of every stage) can live up to the relentless challenges our economies are facing (environmental, economic, societal).

Will Financial Services finally become the Guardian Angel of individuals and businesses accompanying them in this increasing complexity?

Customers (retail and businesses) don’t care about the plumbing problems in banking and in securities markets. Customers need solutions to their real economic problems and counseling as everyone is focused on their activities and goals and not on FinServ that is a means to an end.

The mission isn’t to further advance the Digitalization of Financial Services. The mission should be to impact individuals and businesses in this complexity. Financial Services should become Guardian Angels or Counselors.

Dr. Efi Pylarinou, Global Fintech & Tech Influencer

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Efi Pylarinou

№1 #Finance Global Woman Influencer by Refinitiv 2020 & 2019. Top Global #Fintech Influencer, Futurist, #AI, #Blockchain +: 30yrs FINANCE —