Policymakers, Industry Titans Converge on VenCent Fintech Summit

Posted on August 17, 2023
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Nearly 300 fintech founders, bankers, and industry trendsetters convened in Little Rock for The Venture Center’s VenCent Fintech Conference Monday and Tuesday. Conference sessions delved into updates in financial policies and their impact on fintech and banking collaborations, and the event culminated with the presentation of the Finny Award to Lama AI, a leading AI-driven commercial lending tech provider in the finance sector.

“VenCent 2023 showcases the dynamism and innovation at the heart of fintech,” said Arthur Orduña, executive director of The Venture Center. “It’s a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence by industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and tech visionaries. We’re witnessing a renaissance in financial technology, and VenCent stands as a beacon of this transformative era.”

Highlights of the second day included:

  • Congressman French Hill’s policy update: A much-anticipated segment, Hill provided a comprehensive update straight from Washington, diving into the modern dynamics of finances, the evolving world of digital assets, and the place of fintech in today’s landscape. His views offered a legislative perspective, bridging the gap between policy and practice. Watch his presentation here.

  • Policy panel discussion: Industry trailblazers took the stage for a panel hosted by Hill, the Second District Arkansas Republican who serves as vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He was joined by Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association; Beth Knickerbocker, chief innovation officer for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and George Makris, chairman and CEO of Simmons Bank. Discussion centered around a holistic picture of the current fintech ecosystem and its trajectory. Watch their conversation here.

  • Human-centric transformation: Laura Merling’s presentation on “People, Processes & Technology: Transformation starts with People” provided a focus on the human element in the midst of rapid technological change and underscored the importance of people in driving meaningful organizational transformation.

  • Generative AI in banking: Jared Landrum, VP of growth for BOND.AI, argued for the potential of generative AI. Contrary to popular belief, he said, financial institutions could leverage the technology to maximize revenue without the hefty price tag usually associated with such advanced solutions.

  • The Finny Award, chosen by popular vote at the annual event, recognizes a company helping banks transform efficiencies through ease of integration and reduction of friction, while providing an enhanced customer journey. In addition, the winner is known for delivering solutions that pass regulatory scrutiny. Lama AI, an AI-powered commercial lending technology provider for the financial industry, claimed the 2023 Finny Award for the way it has revolutionized commercial lending dynamics.

The first day of the conference included demonstrations from members of the Venture Center’s 2023 FIS Fintech Accelerator cohort showcasing their latest technological solutions. These presentations covered a range of innovations, with demonstrations from:

Other key highlights from the first day included:

  • Arkansas’ embrace of innovation: Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald expressed their fervent support for entrepreneurs and startups in the state. They highlighted the state’s commitment to fostering a nurturing environment for innovation, particularly in the fintech sector.

  • Pitching new business: One of the standout moments of the day was the introduction of “VenCentMatch,” an exclusive speed networking breakout session tailored specifically for bankers and fintech innovators. This innovative platform allowed for real-time connections in a rapid-fire format, where fintechs could pitch their products to bankers. Designed to maximize each interaction, VenCentMatch set the stage for potential future partnerships, with many industry leaders praising its efficiency and immediacy. It’s a testament to the summit’s commitment to fostering collaboration in the fintech ecosystem.

  • Embracing the future: David Peterson delivered a keynote on embracing the future of financial technology amidst a rapidly changing landscape. He also touched on the need for the industry to engage younger audiences, ensuring the longevity and relevance of fintech solutions.

  • Co-creating the future: Jill Castilla took the stage to share insights on “How to Co-Create the Future of Our Industry.” Emphasizing the interdependence of banking and fintech, Castilla emphasized that collaboration is the key to driving industry evolution and better meeting the needs of consumers.

  • Bank strategy, simplified: Michael Bryan distilled decades of banking technology expertise to provide attendees with a clear, actionable roadmap for simplifying their bank technology strategies. Drawing from real-world experiences, he emphasized adaptability and the seamless integration of innovations into traditional banking systems.

“Events like VenCent are more than just gatherings; they’re pivotal moments where technology meets trust. In the digital age, it’s easy to forget the power of face-to-face interactions,” said Daniel Schutte, vice president of strategic partnership programs. “But real-time, in-person exchanges foster genuine connections and fintech partnerships that thrive on mutual understanding and shared visions. This is where innovation truly comes alive.”