Since When Did Bitcoin Become the ‘B’ Word?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / deandrobotThe annual Finovate confab in New York is a pretty good way to gauge trends in the world of fintech. The roundup of companies presenting were a mix of the usual suspects — including a lot of backend work that would help banks serve consumers better and protect them from fraud. Bots, artificial intelligence, biometrics were all a part of the mix. (See the Bank Innovation roundups here and here.)

But if you were looking for bitcoin, blockchain, or insurance — you’d be better off looking elsewhere.

On Day One, identitii demo’d a system to speed up payments between banks. The presentation talked about a “private distributed ledger.” The word blockchain never passed their lips.

Later at the identitii booth (which was mobbed) I asked about the omission. It seems that they didn’t want any of the 1,600 Finovate attendees to think they were in anyway involved with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is apparently a non-starter with investors.

Indeed, I snagged a couple of investors to ask about this perception. Yes,  one told me that Bitcoin and blockchain were automatic disqualifiers for their portfolios. The promise might be great but the payoff is way too far down the road. Others concurred.

Obviously, these folks aren’t buying all the stories they read in the press (including this story here).

Insurance companies were also in short supply on the Finovate stage — an area many consider an area over-ripe for innovation. Ditto for payments and robo advisors.  Previous presenters confided to me that the cost of Finovate is prohibitive — plus the Finovate brand has created so many conferences that they need to pick and choose where they appear, possibly skewing the selection participants may see at any one time. In addition to the four Finovate conferences held in New York, Hong Kong, London, and San Jose, the company now also produces FinDEVr for developers, also in New York, Silicon Valley, and London.

This year’s 10th gathering drew more than 1,600 attendees, a record. Even as the industry matures, investors still see opportunity and financial institutions clearly see the gathering as an opportunity to gather ideas. Fannie Mae was there as was the FDIC (looking for trouble spots?) as were credit unions and small banks — all along side the investors and big banks looking for partners.

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