The picturesque seascape and splashing Atlantic Ocean waves on the shore of historic Hilton Head Island in South Carolina provided the backdrop as waves of thoughts and ideas flowed at the Association for Financial Technology 2018 Fall Summit.
AFT summits continue to be a source of motivation and information for financial technology companies. And this Fall, it seemed that AFT is no longer the best-kept secret in the industry. There were about 170 attendees representing almost 100 fintech companies interacting freely during three days packed with thought-provoking and knowledge-filled sessions, presentations, and AFT’s specialty – roundtable and candid discussions.
“Everybody in the room services financial institutions and we had a lot of conversation and dialogue around how do we set the stage correctly,” Zack Duke AFT’s outgoing President, and President and Founder at Finosec, said. “When we think of the Association for Financial Technology, it’s really about the financial institutions, that's the heart and the foundation of who we are.”
To set the stage for the 2018 Fall Summit the association asked a banker, Randy Dolyniuk, Founder and President of Hilton Head-based CoastalStates Bank, to provide some perspective and kick things off.
Dolyniuk admitted, “It took me a while to determine what in the world was AFT.” After doing research on the Association for Financial Technology web site for background about its members and sponsors, he recognized “A lot of y'all keep me in business and for that I'm grateful. You keep the community banking space in a place where we can compete.”
The CoastalStates Bank president explained many in the community-banking industry do not have the expertise on their own to implement new technology. “We don't have what it takes to get into the 21st century and beyond. It's up to you to continue to call on us and to show us the new insightful things available to us.”
Dolyniuk admitted the challenge for most AFT members is to prove to the community financial institutions the technology to help them compete isn't scary. “To have a vibrant community, you've got to have a strong community bank. How does it happen? With robust partnerships with folks just like you all. You have got convince us that the technology you're developing is going to be the future of banking. We've got to have financial technology, we've got have what you offer.”
The AFT 2018 Fall Summit agenda also included a keynote address from entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner, and an Executive Keynote from Mark West, Chief Information Officer at Fiserv; and presentations from financial fraud expert Frank Abagnale, who inspired the film, “Catch Me if You Can”; John Augustine, Chief Investment Officer at Huntington Bank; Ron Shevlin, director of research at Cornerstone Advisors; and Dave Sanderson, a survivor of US Airways Flight 1549 (“The Miracle on the Hudson”).
The AFT summit also featured Lee Wetherington, Director of Strategic Insight for Jack Henry & Associates, who delivered his viewpoint as part of a new digital banking special interest group; and concurrent interactive sessions, one focused on general interest industry topics and a separate gathering focused on sales and marketing development. The interactive sessions aim to stimulate open conversation about common challenges and opportunities to better the industry.