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BAI Beacon
We made it. Conference season is over. Now the holidays approach. And I can start writing my report on how mobile check deposits will rise in November and December (yes, this happens every single year). It was an interesting conference season topped off by the reformatted BAI Beacon event. First off, I will say Malauzai got a ton out of the event. We got to speak, we got to meet with press and analysts as all were gathered, and we got quality traffic and leads; not volume but quality. So a good event. That said, the event is not on the scale it once was, even just last year. It is well worth attending and we will continue our strong support but it is approaching taking on a “second-tier” kind of profile given attendance, scope etc. Worth it but just smaller.

Money 20/20 was interesting. I hate to be critical but I found the content surface-level. Although there was a track on digital banking the content was marginally about that topic. Also, some of the speakers were outside of FinTech and could not delve in to the topics that deeply. At one point during the Open API discussion, a fellow hard-core insider did sneak in a question (Jim C.) but it was lost on the crowd. Lots of vendors. This is the feeling of scope one used to get at BAI Retail Delivery. And there was some good content. I enjoyed hearing from senior executives at PayPal and a few other mega leaders. Some large banks in attendance had an interesting perspective and are doing some cool things with vast pools of resources. Malauzai had a small booth, basically for just a bit more than the cost of a few tickets, so worth it. It is a bit of a scene but seems to be the place to be and be seen.

Stand Alone Business Mobile Wallets Make Brands Relevant
Lots of conferences and lots of content. If I don’t hear again about the promise of the mobile wallets for a while, I will be far better off. One ray of light was a discussion of stand-alone business mobile wallets. Several of the mobile wallet presentations featured a) the lackluster results of the “pays” and b) the leadership being provided by Starbucks and others publishing their own apps – stand-alone business mobile wallets. Good to see people looking at Starbucks as a model. All businesses need to go publish their own mobile app. Waiting on the pays to mature enough will take a few more years so until then DO SOMETHING!!!

Wealth Management and Insurance Apps Discouraged by Ecomonics
Beyond mobile wallets, wealth management apps and insurance seem to be getting some attention. As a vendor, these segments, being far less fragmented, don’t represent the scope of building for banking but could be interesting to see how mobile impacts insurance agents and financial advisors. It is an area ripe for innovation, however the economics are tough. Portals exist for the core systems used by the financial advisory community but frankly they are rough. And very little on the mobile side. Again, it is economics. If only 100 organizations exist servicing brokerage and wealth management, or even if the number is several hundred, it is hard to make money selling in that market. It drives vendors towards larger contracts with more PS dollars, not great business in today’s world of monthly recurring revenue focus.

Innovation Labs
These things were all the rage. Everyone seems to have a loan or a garage or something to spark innovation. I really like this trend! It will prove once again why big companies can’t innovate. One or two will figure it out to some degree but in general these will not become skunkwork labs of innovation. Impossible. These companies are too inflexible and risk adverse to actually make the innovation work. They can do a single prototype or proof of concept but rarely develop solutions that can scale, as they lack the ability to think about how to scale, they are already at scale. Trying to reach scale is a skill they usually lost long ago. This fact is the only reason small companies such as Malauzai exist. We should not exist. But we do because we innovate in a laser-beam focused way. We become barely relevant. And only because there is room for innovation, most of which is very obvious stuff. Almost 100% of what we do, we copy. When we started in mobile banking it was not a novel idea. We built innovation for scale targeted on a single solution and we were allowed to survive because the large competitors are benign when it comes to this trick of innovation. Thank you large software companies.

Conference season is over so we can move on to 2017 and the innovations to come. But that’s another blog. 🙂

Robb Gaynor, Chief Product Officer Malauzai Software robb.gaynor@malauzai.com