By attending a variety of conferences related to the sectors we cover, Evolve Capital stays abreast of the latest fintech innovations and how both incumbents and new entrants are receiving them. Several recent conferences attracted emerging service providers who cater to multiple industries in the broader financial services space. These include data analytics firms that provide credit analytics tools, data and analytics firms that crunch big data and those in between.

Finovate Spring 2018 is geared toward financial services and institutions. The conference attracted a blend of emerging startups and established players in the space, and the insights we gained from the 20 meetings we had on our schedule and from pop-up conversations in the presentation hall were plentiful. We spoke with several banks about using alternative data to help with underwriting, and while they seemed more open to exploring new partnerships and strategic investments than in the past, the consensus was fairly conservative. Non-bank lenders were more receptive to using alternative methods to help with underwriting, and a few had already developed those capabilities in-house.

Several of Evolve Capital’s previous contacts had moved on to new opportunities with innovative companies, including a CTO who made the jump to a forward-thinking credit union where he is charged with implementing new technologies. Even established companies were on the hunt for new deals to help enhance their digital offerings. Deluxe Corporation, which is primarily known for printing checks, is branching out and looking to become a full-service provider of digital solutions to banks and small businesses.

The DigIn conference focused on the insurance space, long known for being resistant to digital disruption. Many of the large reinsurance companies and carriers were in attendance and appeared to have a new openness to hearing the messages from startups and engaging in conversations. An interesting observation we noted was that larger companies are more willing to speak openly about where they are investing and who they are backing. This transparency is in stark contrast to financial institutions who play close to the vest when it comes to their investments. It seems the insurance space is more collaborative in certain ways.

Both conferences attracted providers who provide alternative data sets to help verify consumers and small businesses in the FI insurance space. The big providers such as Equifax and Experian were there and offered a full suite of solutions to the sector. Several early-stage growth companies, such as Demyst Data and 1010Data have funding from funds and provide alternative data sets that help companies sift through data and different data points to prospect for new clients.

At the DigIn conference, we met with a variety of established MGA companies that are trying to use technology to make underwriting and services for insurance agents much more efficient. One of these companies, Bold Penguin, is growing rapidly and seems to have excellent traction in the space. Interestingly, we did not see any companies that provide alternative data sets and credit scoring methods to the insurance space.