Analysis

June 5, 2024

Fintechs sing from AI hymn sheet

The AI hype among fintechs is unparalleled at the moment — but will the technology endure or is it another flash in the pan?

Tom Matsuda

3 min read

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A week before making my first trip to Amsterdam for Europe’s biggest fintech conference Money20/20, I received an email with an unusual speaker gift. Attached to the message from the conference’s organisers was a poem on my career so far as a journalist, written, partly at least, by artificial intelligence (AI).

“A reporter with a keen insightful mind, in fintech’s world his talent shines,” a robotic voice read to me as I opened the file.

While a compliment is always appreciated (even from an AI bot), I should’ve taken it as a sign of things to come. Branded with the theme Human X Machine, it’s AI that’s firmly the topic of conversation at this year’s Money20/20.

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Along with Mistral’s Mensch making a headline appearance at the annual 8k-attendee event, there were big tech firms like Nvidia and Amazon Web Services sponsoring entire stages dedicated to AI. Execs from Dutch bank ING and Germany’s biggest bank Deutschebank were pulled in to discuss the impact of the buzzy technology on finance.

Even my fireside chat with the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s Jessica Rusu focused on how financial services can incorporate AI. When I asked her about how a fintech might build a compliant AI product, Rusu waxed lyrical about using generative AI chatbots to speed up the customer service function.

“It’s something that banks and financial institutions are really investigating,” she says. “Chatbots are going to be really good for any kind of exchange of information between the customer and the business.”

Straight after I wrapped up our conversation, the AI overload continued with an announcement from neobank Bunq, which outlined how it was planning to incorporate its AI assistant into its open banking offering.

Hearing announcements like these, I can’t help but recall how it wasn’t so long ago that every company was trying to become a web3 business at the height of the crypto bubble. It looks like AI is reaching similar — if not higher — levels of hype in fintech.

One investor I spoke to, who preferred to remain anonymous,  gave the more cynical stance, that the event was playing fanservice to the trend of the moment.

“I don’t know how much of that is pushed by organisers themselves or it might just be the fact that AI startups are the biggest, hottest startups that actually have the money to attend,” they said.

Other attendees seemed more positive about the continued impact of AI on financial services, telling me that, unlike some of the trends that have come before it, AI is here to stay.

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Tom Matsuda

Tom Matsuda is a fintech reporter at Sifted. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn