Top Takeaways from Canada Fintech Forum

As my train speeds toward Ottawa, I’m collecting my thoughts after a packed two and a half days in Montreal for the 2018 FinTech Forum. I’m recalling the days when I could attend an event and share my thoughts right away. Those were the days!

Trust me, I’m not complaining – we are so busy now at FGS and growing like crazy. We are working with amazing clients and love what we’re doing. But, it’s becoming harder to attend as many events and stay current. We won’t stop though, because it’s the ONLY way to really know what’s happening on the ground in Canada’s FinTech ecosystem.

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The 2018 FinTech Forum event surpassed my highest expectations. It was really great!

Everyone was raving about the networking which was a highlight for me, as well. There are so many new startups entering the market in Canada and getting traction and success quickly through the support and investment provided by Finance Montreal, Luge Capital, Holt Accelerator, BDC IT Ventures, Impression Ventures and Desjardin Labs – just to name a few of the key stakeholders.

Here are some of my impressions and key takeaways from the event:

  • Owl.co stole the show (again) and won the FinTech pitch contest, as did Symend. Both are excellent and much needed B2B FinTech solutions that will help financial institutions accelerate their use of technology to compete and provide a better client experience and business outcome.

  • Judi.ai launched (formerly known as Lendified Technologies) and the awesome Monique Morden (one of the too-few female founders/CEOs in Canada) received significant equity funding interest from Luge Capital and BDC's Women in Tech fund.

  • Desjardin Labs and Cooperathon were some of the most engaging, knowledgeable and experienced innovators on the scene. It’s clear why Desjardin is accelerating their position in the market with the talent at the event! Kudos to them.

  • Adam Gutman (don’t worry, I won’t tell your secret) from BDC Innovation shared some amazing experiences with their internal innovation challenges and it made me very happy to hear another corporate innovator share not only how hard it is to get corporate innovation right, but also how if you start with a solid strategy and clear executive support, you can be successful changing the hearts and minds of the rest of the organization.

  • And I would be remiss not to mention Paul Desmarais' announcement about another major FinTech fund for Canada – Portag3 is just going to keep getting bigger.

Overall, it’s clear to me that Canada is making progress in FinTech. We are starting to get coordinated and I can see the willingness to collaborate starting to take shape. More and more new companies entering AND coming from other countries to do business in Canada. Take Ivy Lender and Christina Camacho (yay, another female founder) who is choosing to put down some roots in Canada, instead of the US where she is from.

Stay tuned. The next few months and the coming year are going to be quite a ride!

– Sue Britton

(Follow Sue on LinkedIn and Twitter.)


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FinTech Growth Syndicate (FGS) Partners with Filament.ai to help incumbents adopt AI technologies

 
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FinTech Growth Syndicate, Canada’s FinTech and innovation experts, is excited to announce a partnership with Filament.ai, experts in applied AI based in London and Toronto. 

Filament.ai builds artificial intelligence solutions for large organizations across industries and licenses tooling to enable them to manage that capability. AI is creating opportunities for new business models and improving customer experience, and Filament.ai’s mission is to equip companies to participate in this transition. This partnership will enable opportunities to work collaboratively to solve big challenges using AI, and in turn help our clients remain competitive in the marketplace. 

As Canada’s premier FinTech engagement firm, FinTech Growth Syndicate has worked with a number of clients to deliver innovative corporate solutions and strategies. Working with some of Canada’s largest and most successful companies, we know there is a lot of opportunity for Filament.ai to help revolutionize our clients business models and capabilities.  

Filament.ai and FGS currently share a head office located at Toronto’s Eaton Centre. 

“Filament.ai expanded to Canada only a few months ago and has already transformed the use of data for our clients putting them at the forefront of this fast-changing landscape,” said Tyler Anderson, Vice President, FGS. “Working with Filament.ai helps our clients build their own intellectual property in the ai space which is unique in today's market and will give them a differentiated and competitive advantage.” 

“Working with FGS has accelerated our North American expansion through the combination of FGS's strategic expertise and Filament.ai’s focus on building AI capability for our clients,” said Col Elliott-Kelly, CSO and NA GM at Filament.ai. “We are excited to deepen our relationship with FGS so that we can continue to help businesses to prepare for an AI-led future and to build transformative strategic assets.”

Together, we will accelerate innovation across Canada. Working closely with us on our corporate innovation initiatives, Filament.ai will accelerate the transition our clients are making towards artificial intelligence capabilities.

About FGS

FinTech Growth Syndicate (FGS) is a business accelerator that accelerates sales, partnering and marketing strategies for new and growing FinTech companies and implements internal or external innovation strategies and projects for financial institutions and technology incumbents. We are deeply connected to the FinTech community and stakeholders and help organizations find partners and build awareness within the FinTech ecosystem.

About Filament.ai

We are a team of strategists, designers, software engineers, data scientists and academics specialising in applied AI and machine learning, with a blend of skills honed over years of supporting enterprise clients in building their AI solutions. We draw expertise from our academic partnerships to put our clients at the forefront of this technology. We help to turn data into valuable AI assets; more specifically, into machine learning models that can continuously improve and scale across multiple business applications. Clients choose us because of our partnering approach, our agile design & build methodologies and our focus on building their AI capabilities. At Filament we are committed to long-term relationships and helping our clients draw the true benefit of AI technology in this fast-changing landscape.

Celero partners with business accelerator to strengthen fintech strategy

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Celero is excited to announce a partnership with FinTech Growth Syndicate (FGS), Canada’s premier FinTech engagement firm, to bring thought leadership and guidance to Celero’s fintech strategy for Canadian credit unions.

Banks and credit unions are partnering with fintechs from around the globe to offer innovative customer experiences and remain competitive. Identifying and selecting the right partners is a crucial component of success for financial institutions looking to execute on their innovation mandates.

FGS began in 2016 with a vision to provide flexibility and support to both incumbents and startups by offering strategies and services to accelerate innovation and bolster the fintech ecosystem in Canada. FGS currently has a database that tracks every fintech in Canada from when it is just an idea. This fintech ecosystem will be used to help identify potential fintechs Celero clients can work with to deliver an innovative member experience.
 
Partnering with FGS brings their unparalleled knowledge, expertise and deep connections with the fintech community to the work Celero does to identify and validate the best fintech partners and solutions to help credit unions on their digital journey.

”FGS brings a wealth of information and insights about the fintech ecosystem in Canada to help Celero and credit unions make informed decisions about their business,” said Rojin Nair, general manager, Fintech Solutions for Celero. “We look forward to working with the FGS team to bring forward their acumen and experience to our clients and the Canadian credit union system.”

FGS Founder and CEO, Sue Britton, acts as an advisor to the Federal Ministry of Global Affairs, the MARS Innovation District, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and other venture capital firms.
 
“Celero is one of the top 100 FinTech companies in the world according to the 2018 IDC FinTech Rankings, and is hyper-committed to ensuring their clients have innovative solutions available to them,” said Sue Britton, CEO, FGS. “Incumbent fintechs have to make significant effort and investment to remain relevant to banks and credit unions and transform their products, and I see Celero as a leader in this regard. Open banking and fintech collaboration and partnerships are examples of innovation they are bringing to the table, and FGS is excited to support their initiatives.”

Celero is currently working with FGS to validate Celero’s fintech selection rubric, a tool used to evaluate and select potential fintech partners based on a variety of criteria to provide credit unions with a robust fintech evaluation and due diligence process. Celero can also engage FGS experts to assist credit unions with answering questions about fintechs or seeking broader market insights.

Watch an interview with Sue Britton at the 2018 Celero Fintech Conference last month on how credit unions can build a stronger, more collaborative ecosystem that ultimately benefits their members, the credit union, and the industry.

Stay tuned for further information about Celero’s fintech selection rubric and our partnership with FGS.


About FGS
FinTech Growth Syndicate is an accelerator that designs, implements and accelerates corporate innovation within established companies, and drives market expansion of new entrants and strategy of technology incumbents facing disruption. We are Canada’s Premier FinTech Advisory Firm. FGS brings the synergies between FinTech and Incumbents together, and is passionate about partnering and building a strong community.

About Celero 
Celero is a leading provider of Information Technology solutions to credit unions and other financial institutions across Canada. Included in the 2018 IDC Top 100 FinTech Rankings, Celero provides complete banking solutions, IT planning, systems integration, hosting, support, and consulting services as well as business analytics solutions and expertise. Celero meets the unique needs of financial institutions and delivers world-class reliability and security through its Canadian-based data centres, employees, and operations. For more information, visit celero.ca.
   

Featuring Customer Experience Aficionado: Carol Richardson

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 What makes you a FinTech expert?

Throughout my career in enterprise software - having worked for some of the largest software companies as well as with innovative start-ups -  I have had the privilege of working with many of the largest Financial Institutions around the world helping them define and implement state of the art technology solutions in a secure environment - from implementing the first web-based solution for retail and commercial banking, to implementing the first generation workflow solution for home relocation services and document management (winning an industry best award), to providing data security for sensitive information in the cloud for mission critical banking solutions.  I continue to enjoy working with businesses, large and small, to help them achieve their aspirations through the application of innovative solutions.

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to?

There is a substantial shift underway in the world of loyalty programs and customer strategy. Loyalty programs are becoming much more sophisticated to include omnichannel and multichannel programs that recognize the customer for every interaction helping to personalize and customize the experience.  New technological developments in artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots, machine learning (ML), and augmented reality (AR) provide opportunities for uniquely innovative solutions and services driving customer loyalty.  The customer wants choice and they want programs that matter in some way – it needs to touch the soul. Loyalty programs that seamlessly integrate the use of technology while not replacing the need for human interaction will create the desired customer experiences and be able to evolve at a rapid pace to keep up with these evolving expectations.  New opportunities are being created across the ecosystem as new strategic partnerships are formed further offering the customer the choice, flexibility, and experiences they are looking for at any time, any place, and any means. The new business reality relies on the creation of a customer experience/engagement program - with a measurement framework - to create and measure attitudinally loyal customers aligned to the strategic drivers of the business.   Those companies that develop a customer experience/engagement model providing their customers with a highly differentiated customer experience will be the ones who are successful at beating the competition, achieving profitable growth, and creating a loyal customer base, for their business.   I have always believed customer engagement programs, done right, are at the centre of the business strategy – they are not a nice to have, but a must have.

 

Why do you love FinTech?

I have always been attracted to FinTech as it has such a massive impact on the way we do business and how we live our lives.  Although innovation has been a constant feature of the industry, the speed at which we innovate is even faster now and more exciting than ever.  FinTech is in transition with new players challenging “old” ways of doing business and established players bringing important credentials to the table; it is this intersection of the new learning from the old as much as the old learning from the new that makes FinTech so interesting.  I love helping to bridge and transform these worlds by leveraging the right business and technology solution allowing all players in the ecosystem to achieve outcomes previously unattainable.  I love helping Canadian companies, large and small, accelerate their innovation agenda to compete and lead on the global stage.  

 

Why did you join the Fintech Growth Syndicate’s Industry Best team?

I was drawn to working with a group of experts with such deep industry expertise who are driven by a mutual desire to share, collaborate, help each other and FGS’s clients accelerate their innovation portfolios in order to compete and achieve previously unimaginable things.  It’s a privilege to work with Sue Britton who is an inspiration in every way reminding me that you can be a good person and do good work at the same time.  

 

FEATURING FINTECH BUILDER & INVESTOR: KARL SIGERIST

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What makes you a FinTech expert? 

In the early 80’s I was asked by a major Canadian bank to explore  them utilize facsimile machines (an industry first)  to speed up the distribution of credit applications to a new centralized credit adjudication and underwriting team …. In the early 90’s part of the team at Newcourt that created, pioneered and implemented the first (pre internet) online instant credit, lending and leasing fintech platform that drove consumer credit growth growth from $5 million to $384 million in 4 years. Led 37-team members providing credit, leasing and insurance solutions through 5,500+ independent retailers. Developed 20+ Canadian and global strategic alliances and joint ventures across multiple industry….Over the past decade Led Crelogix where our team implemented point-of-sale automated consumer credit algorithms, electronic identity verification, proof of income, proof of employment, signature and digital contracting of credit, insurance and product protection services that processed over $3B in transactions for more than 300K consumers across super-prime, prime, non-prime and sub-prime credit profiles.  Our team executed a comprehensive one-to-many geographic, industry and omni-channel marketing strategy that allowed the platform to scale to become Canada’s leading financial technology enabled provider of point-of-sale instalment credit financing through more than 8,000 business partners within the Vacation Ownership, Tuition, Healthcare, Membership, Motorsports, Marine, Recreational Vehicle, Home Improvement and Consumer Durable industries. We conceived, developed and launched an Omni-channel financial technology enabled lending solution at retail, through a diverse group of merchants, wholesalers, manufactures, franchisers and industry associations their websites and via mobile applications.

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to? 

Nelson Lin and his team might be on to something…. fintrux.com

 

Why do you love FinTech? 

Fintech attempts to align innovation with utility, price and cost positions allowing early adopters to drive differentiation and lower costs achievement simultaneously.

 

Why did you join the FinTech Growth Syndicate’s Industry Best Team? 

Sue asked me to….to share my 30+ years of demonstrated track record creating compelling strategic visions and missions, fostering cultures that attract, retain and develop amazing team members who have achieved rapid transformational growth and outsized risk adjusted returns on invested capital at financial, FinTech, SaaS and information technology organizations across North America and Europe.

Top Payment Influencers to Follow on Twitter

Top Payment Influencers to Follow on Twitter

In between conferences and gatherings, social networks are playing an increasingly important role helping people in the payments industry connect and stay up-to-date on key developments. Jay Palter has compiled a list of top payments influencers globally on Twitter so you can follow news about innovation around the world and the people driving change.

FEATURING DIGITAL BANKING & PAYMENTS EXPERT: SCOTT LAPSTRA

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What makes you a Digital Banking & Payments Expert?

I have been working in payments technology and digital banking now for about 15 years and have a range of experiences building, trialing & implementing digital financial services. I really enjoy the challenge of working through complex banking problems and solving them with technology.

Prior to building and launching Tangerine’s credit card business in 2015, I spent about seven years with MasterCard Canada where we commercialized the first generations of contactless, wallets and mobile payments technology…long before Apple & Google Pay came to market!

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to?

I think the emergence of open-banking applications and the emergence of Banking as a Service will change financial services as we currently know it. While we don’t yet have an open-standard like PSD2 in Canada, it is coming.

If you spend enough time in the FinTech space, you will recognize that a lot of these companies are creating Banking as a Service inspired applications, putting the consumer front-and-centre in the experience with transactions increasingly in the background and not necessarily with a single bank, all without open-banking standards.

 

Why do you love FinTech?

Working within Canadian FinTech is exciting, apply new technology and design methods to solve real problems and improve customer experience through technology. What’s not to love about that!

 

Why are you excited to participate in the panel?

I am excited to participate on the panel and to be challenged to find new ways to problem solve and advocate for businesses that improve payments and banking for Canadians. Sue and the team have assembled quite a leadership roster and I am proud to stand along side these industry experts and contributing to building Canada’s leadership role in FinTech!

 

FEATURING BRAND ENGINEERING EXPERT: PHILIPPE GARNEAU

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What makes you a brand engineering expert?

I am an idealist. I believe great brands are causes. When my firm created ING DIRECT, Expedia.ca, Intact Insurance or Borrowell, we parked our cynicism at the door and became true believers in what those brands wanted to do. When you force yourself to be accountable for everything your client’s brand does, you gain insights, you learn what works and what doesn’t in a way that transcends a sales or research report.  That’s one way you become an expert. The other is simpler, and harder. Listen, listen, listen. Retain your capacity for awe and never behave like you’ve got it all figured out.

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to? 

Brands are no longer taught. They are observed. So everything a brand does matters. If a brand speaks one way over here and another way over here, it creates dissonance, and that will be felt and interpreted uncharitably. Trust suffers. Another important thing to pay attention to, even more so today, is making sure your customers feel your authentic motive for creating the product or service you are so proud of. It’s too easy to rely on what the product does to get attention, but that can be copied. Make sure you find ways to consistently express why you do what you do. It will make selling what you make far more satisfying and start building a brand people can love, not just admire or find useful.


Why do you love FinTech?

Money is so key to our identity. How we manage it is a litmus test for almost, well, anything. With literally thousands of Fintech startups rethinking how we relate to money, how we save it, move it, use it, give it away etc…the opportunities for these brands to be on the consumer’s side means that Fintech is really correcting the balance of power in terms of consumerism. We should never again talk about empowering the customer. The customer was always empowered. We have to earn their loyalty. No other category is like this to this degree, and as exciting for a marketer.  That’s why I love Fintech. 

 

Why did you join the FinTech Growth Syndicate’s Industry Best Team?

Because the FinTech Growth Syndicate is like that old movie The Dirty Dozen. Everyone is truly and profoundly skilled in their own area and respectful of the other. What a panel to have on your side if you are a startup or an FI of any stripe. When the FGS is working with a client they are receiving a level of counsel and a diversity of opinions that no corporate culture can sustain internally. On a personal level I also enjoy the fact that even after thirty years in this business I can learn so much from my peers on the panel.

FEATURING SALES & MARKETING LEADER: GARY FEARNALL

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What makes you a Sales & Marketing Leader?

I am still learning but have a few years of experience working in a variety of sales environments, building and leading teams and businesses. I have great passion for helping create strong narratives to take to the market and to drive demand via powerful marketing and sales efforts. Someone once said that nothing happens until somebody sells something and I think it’s something to pay attention to in time of rapid change. It is still true that even for new solutions that improve peoples and businesses lives, you need effective B2B and B2C sales and marketing to have success. New applications and approaches will not achieve mass success and scale with a “build it and they will come” approach. Thoughtful execution of informed sales and marketing is a key component of success in 2018, just as it has always been. 

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to?

We are rightfully excited about developing great new technology that enables consumer and businesses to do more in the financial area. In parallel there are some basics that need to be accomplished to achieve scale. Sales and Marketing are part of the foundation of every successful business and are increasingly linked in the application strategy and tools that are available. 

Powerful advances in MarTech and AdTech are creating new avenues for start-ups to compete and forcing change for incumbents in how they go to market. There are fundamentals of sales that are still critical to execute and new ways of thinking about approaches including Account Based Sales and Marketing that are key to understand. 

 

Why do you love FinTech?

Canada’s FinTech companies are creating world class new products and ideas. There is incredible energy and passion coming from established Financial Institutions right through to the start-up community. I feel fortunate to be part of an exciting arena that is bringing innovation and disruption to the financial services industry. I have always enjoyed being part of market change and am thrilled to share ideas and to help businesses achieve growth and success. 

 

Why did you join the FinTech Growth Syndicate’s Industry Best Team?

I believe Sue Britton saw an opportunity to help Canada’s FinTech community work together more cohesively and has been a real champion of sharing and connecting ideas and people. In that way FGS and I are very aligned as I believe in the power of bringing solutions and leaders together to achieve great things. I look forward to adding value to the FGS Industry Best Team as much as possible by leveraging my network and bringing FinTech businesses together.

FEATURING COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT: JACQUI D'EON

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What makes you an Communications Expert?

There aren’t very many communications professionals who have engineering degrees. My problem-solving skills allow me to get to the core of issues and identify the most strategic solutions quickly. I have “Spock-like” logic and the ability to grasp the subtle and broader implications of a situation through listening and probing. Unlike Spock however, I have a keen sense of humour and distinctive laugh that can ease the tension in any situation. I have been a member of the C-suite myself, so I understand the pressures involved.

Before starting JAd’E Communications, I was the Chief Communications Officer for Deloitte Canada for 10 years and enjoyed a varied 20-year career with P&G. I am a registered professional engineer, accredited with the International Association of Business Communicators and was honoured with the lifetime achievement designation, Master Communicator.

 

What is the current trend in your area of expertise that people should pay attention to?

To succeed in business, you need to connect with your stakeholders and engage them in dialogue that helps achieve the business objectives. Those objectives may go from having employees understand the goals to answering the criticisms of detractors.

I help businesses find ways to achieve their business objectives by reaching the right people at the right time using the right media.  

 

Why do you love FinTech?

I am a self-proclaimed geek and I love the financial industry.  It’s a natural fit!

 

Why are you excited to participate in the panel?

Being around people who are experts in their fields and love what they do is stimulating.  I am curious by nature, so surrounding myself with people who come from a variety of backgrounds with diverse skills enables me to learn and grow.