“Fintech” may seem like just a buzzword, but after walking around this year’s expanded LendIt Fintech USA conference at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, it was clear that it’s a real movement—one that’s picking up speed. Marketplace lenders like SoFi, Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg, and Avant are becoming as mainstream as traditional banking institutions when it comes to lending money to the American consumer.
LendIt Fintech USA Has Grown with its Audience
LendIt Fintech, in its fifth year, has become the largest event in financial services innovation. It attracted thousands of attendees eager to explore the latest trends in international financial technology, best practices, and advancements in consumer lending, marketing, BlockFin, financial AI, policy, and regulation. Traditional banks have caught wind of this innovative gathering and accounted for more than 1,000 attendees (28% of the audience) this year, which is double their attendance in 2017.
At this year’s conference, the LendIt team tacked on an additional day for workshops focused on blockchain/crypto currencies, diversity, tech regulation, bank technology, and sales and marketing. Another welcome change from last year was a greater emphasis on diversity and different perspectives in the financial space, with twice the number of female speakers as last year.
How Direct Marketing Helps Fintech Companies Create Customers
IWCO Direct participated in several workshops that shed light on the benefits of utilizing credit data, direct mail marketing, and segmentation and personalization strategies aligned with digital channels to target the right individuals and improve acquisition rates. We know that marketing mail is incredibly effective for targeting qualified leads—source data from the bureaus can’t be beat. I was impressed to see the number of marketers who’ve embraced direct mail after learning that it can outperform other channels for lead generation to an online platform. Our team decided to spotlight how effective direct mail can be when aligned and integrated with other digital channels.
Conference attendees were encouraged to take advantage of the Brella app—think speed dating for conferences. The IWCO Direct team gave it a whirl and set up 15-minute “dates” with several marketers looking to introduce additional innovation and targeted messaging into their direct mail campaigns. It was a fantastic investment for both parties. We’d love to see this concept adopted at other industry conferences.
Insights from Fintech Thought Leaders
Peter Renton, chairman and co-founder of LendIt, kicked off the conference with several big announcements demonstrating great momentum for fintech, including Marlette Funding, LLC, owner of consumer-lending platform Best Egg exceeding $5 billion of prime loans after just four years.
Lending Club CEO Scott Sanborn highlighted that 57% of Americans are financially “unhealthy.” Our U.S. consumer household debt is $13 trillion. The retirement savings gap is growing by $3 trillion per year. The answer to these challenges, as Sanborn sees it, is focusing on the cost of debt, access to credit, and behavior around credit. LendIt is challenging attendees and sponsors to consider how they can perform, make enhancements, and improve the financial health of the American consumer. We anticipate awards surrounding financial inclusion, regulatory innovation, and product alignment at LendIt Fintech 2019 in San Francisco.
Michael Lewis, author of “Money Ball,” “The Blind Side,” and “The Big Short,” kicked off the second day with some clever anecdotes. An engaging storyteller, he revealed exciting news of a new book in the works and teased that his next subject might be focused on Washington D.C.
After just six weeks in his role, SoFi’s new CEO Anthony Noto took the stage to discuss the company’s interest in deepening its relationship with customers and being a part of all their key financial decisions. They’re doubling down on wealth and credit with SoFi Money, allowing access to traditional banking products including ATMs, wire transfers, and credit cards. Noto shared that SoFi has shifted their focus from the “HENRY” (High Earners Not Rich Yet) demographic to “HENWS” (High Earners Not Well Served). It makes sense—but really doesn’t have the same ring to it.
During the conference, we had a chance to hear from SeedInvest, the largest equity crowdfunding company in the U.S. They hosted a live fundraising track for start-up companies hoping to disrupt a stale space to find additional investors. Having personally invested through SeedInvest, it was novel to have the opportunity to ask the founders of these organizations questions in person and invest on the spot.
Our IWCO Direct team felt LendIt Fintech knocked it out of the park (in this case, AT&T) yet again. They delivered valuable content from key players and an organized event as promised. If you missed it, consider visiting their website to watch video content from the event. Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner reminded us “disruptive businesses typically do more than just speed up a process.” It’s clear that these organizations are all working diligently and quickly to develop their super powers while letting their customers be involved in the process to drive their own experiences. We’re eager to see their innovation take flight and help promote it. It’s safe to say we’ll be heading back to the bay in 2019 to see how the fintech space has progressed with helping millions of Americans right their financial ships.
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